Grand Slam:

Sports mags go for the gold

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Why do sports magazines appeal to publishers? Well, they inevitably touch on cultural hot points like race, gender, and celebrity, and dramatic photo opportunities abound. Perhaps most importantly, a never-ending supply of statistics means there’s always fodder for the definitive form of late ’90s magazine expression—the chart. While sports have always snagged adult male consumers, new players in the genre are reaching futher out. Herwith, a scouting report.

—G. Beato

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ESPN CONDÉ NAST SPORTS FOR WOMEN HECKLER SLAM
Spiritual mascot Dan Marino Tiger Woods “Most glamorous sportswoman in the country,” Gabrielle Reece 18-year-old snowboarding phenom you’ve never heard of Li’l Penny
Show me the money 3.15 million readers Anytime you’re starting a new magazine, it helps to have a worldwide cable empire to promote it. Best closer in the league: Condé Nast’s ad department. Anti-consumerist editorial stance lends maximum credibility to advertisers. Cool-hunting advertisers eager to target voracious sports-shoe consumer demographic
Knockout punch Easy-to-read old-school graphic design Editorial staff includes mix of seasoned vets and future All-Stars. Workout tips from supermodel athletes, rather than just supermodels Skaters and snowboarders discuss their adventures without slick magazine-writer intervention Nothing but net
Bum knee Frequent unnecessary psychoanalysis: “He may be a bit anal, but he can putt.” Unrestrained insider tone means you have to watch at least 15 hours of sports a week to know what they’re talking about. Editor writes like a summer intern at a second-rate PR agency. See above Should come with glossary insert for those over 30
Intangibles If mysteriously well-regarded columnist Rick Reilly ever decides to jump to ESPN, it’ll be SI‘s gain. Has the rarest commodity in the genre; funny sports-writing that’s actually funny Low-fat cheesecake like “The Breast News Ever!” likely to attract crossover audience Lots of music coverage, in case you’re not really into sports, even extreme ones Surprisingly entertaining vertical-leap-
enhancement ads
State of the chart Used mostly as uninspired page-filling devices Detailed statistical breakdown of the Alamodome Detailed statistical breakdown of Wheat Thins Nutrition Facts label Stats and charts are for fat-asses. Rankings of up-and-coming sneaker brands

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It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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