I found it interesting that nobody reached out to me to fix the situation. I didn’t receive any emails or letters from SI.
I quickly renewed my subscription. I’ve been getting the magazine since I was 12 in 1971. You never forget your first cover, right? Mine was Cornell’s Ed Marinaro on the Nov. 1, 1971 edition.
Naturally, I wasn’t going to break a habit that dates back more than 43 years. Yet others have.
Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a column about what he thinks is the demise of SI.
Recently, casually lifting a Sports Illustrated out of a magazine rack in a physician’s waiting room, I nearly had a heart attack. Fortunately, it was my cardiologist’s office.
I don’t know how long it had been since I last held a copy of the magazine I’d grown up adoring, but this one was frighteningly emaciated, a slight and insubstantial version of its once-robust self. Even the frail old men surrounding me seemed healthier.
Time – both the passing years and the magazine’s parent company – clearly had not been kind to SI. The issues I eagerly consumed as a boy used to have a tangible heft. They were as physically imposing as their content was mentally stimulating.
Later he writes:
Those who didn’t subscribe bought it at newsstands, borrowed it from friends, or read it in libraries and doctors’ offices. It set the agenda. It identified sports’ heroes and villains. It added depth to what until then had simply been fun and games.
It was the bible for our boyhood. Youngsters everywhere plastered SI covers all over their bedroom walls, saved every issue, had them autographed. In an age when televised sports were still relatively rare, it was our surest connection to that world.
It’s inevitable. The world moves on, and sentiment can’t stop it. But when the print SI is gone something will have been lost: the way some words and photos seemed created for a page; that delicious anxiety you felt opening a mailbox to see whether the week’s issue had arrived; the tactile sensations of thumbing through a fresh, beautifully produced magazine.
And so, before this incredibly shrinking magazine evaporates like a puddle in the sun of new technology, its readers past and present ought to take a moment to appreciate all the great journalism, writing, and photography it brought us.
Today’s SI might be thin and flimsy, but when it’s gone, the hearts of those who loved it will be heavy.
Fitzpatrick is right in respect. It is sad to see Sports Illustrated feel so thin during many weeks. Soon it will rival the “Great Jewish Athletes” pamphlet the flight attendant hands to the woman in “Airplane.”
Yet there still are many reasons to read SI. The quality of writing remains excellent.
I expect my subscription will expire one day. I think the physical magazine’s days are numbered. Ten years on the outside.
Until then, I will keep SI on automatic renewal.