The thousands of letters which SPORTS ILLUSTRATED receives during a year include a small but consistent handful complaining that this magazine carries too much advertising. They are a source of enduring wonderment to the staff—for reasons which might seem too obvious to invite explanation.
Maybe not, however. It is a fact that a magazine like SPORTS ILLUSTRATED simply cannot sustain the editorial level to which its readers are accustomed without the monetary support of advertising. It is also an easily demonstrable fact that advertising, good advertising, brings to a magazine a breadth of character achievable in no other way. (So, for example, during World War II our soldiers overseas discovered that they were missing some valuable home ties when they were sent adless copies of otherwise familiar magazines.)
Advertising is as integral a part of this magazine as its editorial content. It is also a special service—advising, counseling and informing readers about the products, opportunities and attractions of contemporary life. Still, these letters flutter in, though the letter writers have not kept pace with our ad salesmen. The volume of letters has remained about the same, while the volume of advertising in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has increased 300% in the past four years.
While we are on the subject of our letter writers, a recent letter from Reader Howard Moyle of Rosharon, Texas comes to mind:
"I enjoyed your MEMO [Aug. 22] concerning 'Your image in our statistical mirror.' However, the image I see is another guy. I'm afraid I brought all your averages down except the one concerning tires.
"Surely two Akrons couldn't supply our tires if your reader wears them out like I do. I look forward, though, to our 'future full of promise,' and meanwhile I enjoy SPORTS ILLUSTRATED immensely."
What tire-consumer Moyle, bless him, really sees in the mirror is that he truly is part of the composite that makes up our readership.