Two of the best-known athletes in the world made the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in the last two issues: Jack Nicklaus and Sandy Koufax. This week we give you Janis Rinehart, 19, Paula Walter, 18, and Jeanne Ellison, 16. Unless you happen to live in Texas and keep your eyes open, we expect you've never heard of these Atalanta-type young females at all. Our editors are only a little ahead of you, having just discovered them, too. The Texas girls are on our cover this week not because we're tired of famous men with muscles or want to "appeal" to women (or men) readers in some special way, but because the Texans' mixture of grace and drive deserves to be known to a few more million people.
Women, we might say in passing, have no special "department" in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. We have women readers as well as men readers, and women writers as well as men writers. All this seems natural enough to us and would not call for comment—except that one of our women readers (who is also occasionally one of our writers) had an advance look at this issue and wrote us a note. She is Dolly Connelly, a West Coaster by birth and conviction, who lives in Bellingham, Wash. now after Stanford University and a southern California childhood and whose most recent SI story was a recollection of that childhood, Muley's Enchanted Summer (SI, July 8). Writes Dolly Connelly:
"SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is an anomaly—a 'men's' magazine that exerts an extraordinary hold over its women readers without playing a woman's angle. You report on women in sports not just as women, but as sportswomen—and this is a welcome, if backhanded, compliment, since it implies that women are people after all. That gets us, and so does SI's transparent, though unstated, definition of sport as active fun—wide enough for the marvelous memories of a New York boyhood that begin on page 75, and discerning enough for the blue hair ribbons and pressurized hair shellac with which those Texas belles intend to storm the Olympics.
"I've never enjoyed a ride more than the one you take us on with Janis, Sue, Paula and Flamin' Mamie from Abilene to Austin via hair tints, beauty parlors, makeup, form-fitting running shirts and real nice track training techniques. With astonishing perception your writer, Gil Rogin, penetrates the octopus-ink camouflage thrown out by the female mind as it zeros in straight toward the single objective. It is another writing accomplishment in keeping with SI's fine discovery that sport is worthy of fine treatment."
April 20, 1964
Dolly Connelly's own next story in SI will be along in an early issue and will describe an excursion across the 5,000-mile Trans-Canada Highway.