Two weeks ago the various departments of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED got together to consider the progress of the 41 eventful weeks that had passed since August 16, 1954 when our first issue appeared. A highlight of the occasion was a report by Managing Editor Sidney L. James.
In the summer of 1953, TIME Inc.'s management asked Sid James to develop a magazine of sport. And the concluding paragraphs of James's speech in the spring of 1955 are, I feel, an outstanding description of the position in today's journalism of the magazine that he and his staff developed.
"I think you can almost say that today—three months short of a year since our first issue—there already exists something like a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED tradition. Maybe tradition isn't precisely the right word for it. But I can assure you that there exists a unique attitude, a high state of morale, an enthusiasm, a zest and confidence that persists and flourishes in the face of almost daily deadlines. Maybe we can attribute it to the fact that—for the most part—we write a continuing happy story. We cover a happy world.
"And most important of all, in this early stage of our career, our readers have learned to talk about us as though we have been around forever.
June 5, 1955
"They have learned in less than a year what to expect from us. They've learned that we won't hesitate to speak out against degrading influences in sport. They know they can depend upon us for thorough word-and-picture coverage of big events, they know, too, that we'll bring them a good supporting coverage of the off-the-mainline events that never get into the newspapers.
"It just doesn't seem possible now that less than a year ago there was no SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, there was no place of assembly for the vital, articulate and intelligent readership we now serve.
"It is unthinkable that all the great sports photography and sports writing we have published since last August would never have seen the light of day had it not been for SI.
"It is as if the great human pageant had never had a magazine called LIFE. It is as if the world of affairs had never had a magazine called TIME. It is as if American business and the greatest industrial production in history had never had a magazine called FORTUNE.
"As in the case of TIME, LIFE and FORTUNE, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has now staked its claim to its share of the nation's precious reading time.
"That SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has succeeded in doing this in less than a year is something of a publishing miracle. I'm proud—as I know every one of you is proud—to have been a witness to the miracle—and a part of it."