Recently Sports Illustrated received a request from the United States Information Agency in Washington, who wondered if our staff would prepare a display of photographic panels on the subject of sports in America for exhibit by the more than 100 U.S. information centers abroad.
The completed display, Sports in the U.S.A., which has just been delivered to the Exhibits Branch of the USIA, consists of 99 photographs (mostly in color), arranged on 23 aluminum 30- by 40-inch panels with accompanying captions (which will be translated into the languages of the countries in which they appear). Sports features range from big league baseball to "the ol' swimmin' hole"; and the pictures, collected with the assistance of LIFE'S Exhibition Department, represent the work not only of SI's own staff but of other photographers from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico.
A USIA representative, visiting our offices for one of several consultations, told me that 12 sets will tour the world and be shown on all five continents. In some cases the display will be under the direct sponsorship of the U.S. Information Service at the information centers which are the adjuncts of our embassies, legations and missions. In others it is expected that national and local athletic associations and groups will share the sponsorship in museums, libraries and other suitable exhibition places.
In the original request for the display, the Chief of the Exhibits Branch wrote: "Since sports represent one of the best examples of our free way of life in action, we feel that they can play an important role in our program of trying to explain to other peoples just what kind of people we are, how we do things, and what we believe in."
And in the countries in which the exhibit appears, it will, I am sure, tell this story—in the international language which sports speak.
LIFE EXHIBITS' JAMES RICAU WITH SOME OF THE PRELIMINARY PANELS OF SPORTS ILLUSTRATED DISPLAY