This issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED marks our fifth anniversary. Since Volume 1, Number 1 in 1954, far more has happened in the world of sport than during any preceding five-year span since man first ran a race or desisted from labor to play a game. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED started when it did because all signs pointed to this phenomenon. The start was hardly a coincidence; the time looked right.
This is an article from the Aug. 17, 1959 issue
What was coincidence, as if arranged by a friendly destiny, was the circumstance by which an event unprecedented in the long history of sport became Paul O'Neil's lead story in our first issue. On this birthday, you may enjoy reading its opening paragraphs.
The art of running the mile consists, in essence, of reaching the threshold of unconsciousness at the instant of breasting the tape. It is not an easy process, even in a set-piece race against time, for the body rebels against such agonizing usage and must be disciplined by the spirit and the mind. It is infinitely more difficult in the amphitheater of competition, for then the runner must remain alert and cunning despite the fogs of fatigue and pain; his instinctive calculation of pace must encompass maneuver for position, and he must harbor strength to answer the moves of other men before expending his last reserves in the war of the homestretch.
Few events in sport offer so ultimate a test of human courage and human will and human ability to dare and endure for the simple sake of struggle—classically run, it is a heart-stirring, throat-tightening spectacle. But the world of track has never seen anything quite to equal the "Mile of the Century" which England's Dr. Roger Gilbert Bannister—the tall, pale-skinned explorer of human exhaustion, who first crashed the four-minute barrier—won here last Saturday from Australia's world-record holder, John Michael handy. It will probably not see the like again for a long, long time.
Not quite its like ever, I suspect. But the years since then have had a full measure of other remarkable achievements; and, if anything is certain, there are many more to come.
As we enter our sixth year of publication, Editor-in-Chief Henry R. Luce says it this way:
"We cannot promise you what victories we will report in the months ahead, what dramatic moments our-writers and artists and photographers will capture for you—sport is too unpredictable for that. But we do promise to bring the best of sport, all in one place—and to bring it to you with an eye for action, a nose for news, and an ear for truth. And, we might add, with heart and humor."