Sport (US magazine)
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|First issue||September 1946|
|Final issue||August 2000|
|Based in||New York, New York|
SPORT magazine was an American sports magazine. Launched in September 1946 by the New York-based publisher, Macfadden Publications, SPORT pioneered the generous use of color photography – it carried eight full colour plates in its first edition – and almost immediately became half-bible, half-guru to a generation of men coming of age.
SPORT predated the launch of Sports Illustrated by eight years, and is remembered for bringing several editorial innovations to the genre, as well as creating, in 1955, the SPORT Magazine Award. The SPORT Award, given initially to the outstanding player in baseball’s World Series (Johnny Podres of the Brooklyn Dodgers was the inaugural winner), was later expanded to include the pre-eminent post-season performer in the other three major North American team sports. What made SPORT the most distinctive from Sports Illustrated, however, was the fact it was a monthly magazine as opposed to SI's weekly distribution.
SPORT was published continually between its launch and August 2000, when its then-owner, British publisher EMAP PLC, made the decision to close the money-losing title. Today, the photo archive of SPORT, which represents one of the most significant collections of 20th century sports photography in North America, is housed online.
For many of the middle years of the 20th century, the king of sport magazines in North America was not Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated, but the brainchild of another publishing house, Macfadden Publications. Launched in September 1946, Macfadden's SPORT magazine broke new ground, as the first mainstream national sports publication, but also in its editorial innovations. In those years, SPORT had the market for magazine-style sports journalism virtually to itself and, under founding editor Ernest Heyn, pioneered a brand of behind-the-scenes glimpses of the heroes of the day not previously attempted. The emphasis was not on the games or the teams, but on the elements of human drama that lay beneath. SPORT was an icon in the league of LIFE, Look and The Saturday Evening Post.
Many of the magazine’s editorial innovations—such as its SPORTtalk digest of short items at the front of the magazine, the SPORT Special long feature at the back and, in particular, the use of full-page colour portraits of the stars of the day—were later borrowed by the new kid on the block, SI, when it made its debut as a weekly in 1954. In fact, Time Inc., tried to purchase the name "SPORT", but the company's final offer of $200,000 fell on deaf ears at Macfadden, who would have sold for $50,000 more, so Time Inc. went instead with Sports Illustrated, trademarking a name used by two previous failed sports journals, and which had lapsed into public domain.
Notable writers for SPORT
From its launch in September 1946, with Joe DiMaggio gracing the inaugural cover, SPORT magazine thrived in a field it had in its early years essentially to itself; rival The Sporting News then being a weekly newspaper printed on newsprint. Each month its pages were filled with evocative writing by the likes of Grantland Rice, John Lardner, Dan Daniel, Roger Kahn and Dick Schaap, and exquisite photographs by such shooting stars as Ozzie Sweet, George Heyer, Marvin Newman, Hy Peskin and Martin Blumenthal. It continued to thrive for a quarter-century or so, as SI struggled to reach profitability, and to find the right blend of spectator and participatory sports.
The SPORT Award
Representative of SPORT magazine's stature, in the hearts and minds of the reading public, but also of the men who ran the leagues and teams across North America, was the magazine's success in establishing the SPORT Award in 1955 for the most valuable player in the World Series. The concept was expanded over the years until a SPORT magazine award was presented to the outstanding post-season performer in all four major team sports, as sanctioned by the leagues.
But by the early 1970s, Macfadden, lacking Time's deep pockets, was fading, and was swallowed up by successively larger companies, eventually winding up in the hands of the Charter Company. There was also a corresponding zig-zag in editorial direction, and gradually SPORT lost its way, its distinctive voice and, eventually, its presence. A brief revival occurred in 1981, when the magazine was purchased by Wick Allison. Allison installed David Bauer, currently deputy managing editor of Sports Illustrated, as editor. Under Bauer, SPORT sharply improved its design and editorial direction, making the magazine profitable for the first time in years. However, Allison and Bauer soon moved on to other projects, the magazine was sold to another group, and the decline resumed.
The end of SPORT
SPORT's demise was duly mourned. Allen Barra, writing in Salon.com, put it this way: "Though it didn't make any headlines, the news of the death of SPORT magazine ... must have put a lump in the throat of those old enough to remember the greatest of all American sports magazines ... Sports Illustrated was great, but SI, in an era when you couldn't see all the highlights every night, was read for news; SPORT was for reflection." And, in a rare departure for the competitive magazine industry, SI itself paid tribute to SPORT on its own pages with a poignant piece that began, "They closed the barbershop last week, the one in town, the first place -- not counting school or a friend's house -- where your mother would drop you off and leave you ..."
The SPORT Collection
Today, the archive of the magazine, comprising tens of thousands photographic images and illustrations, lives on, forming the base of The SPORT Collection, which is housed in Toronto, Canada, at The SPORT Gallery. There is also a second location in Vancouver, Canada.
|1946 – 1961||Macfadden Publications|
|1961 – 1976||Bartell Publishing|
|1976 – 1978||Downe Communications|
|1978 – 1981||Charter Company|
|1981 – 1988||Southwest Media Corporation|
|1988 – 1998||Petersen Publishing|
|1998 – 2000||EMAP|