On behalf of the Board of Directors of Time Inc. and on behalf of all Time Incers and especially on my own behalf, I send you and your colleagues heartiest congratulations on the 10th birthday of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
You have achieved something so extraordinary that even among publishers its uniqueness is not fully appreciated. You have established a successful national weekly. This is a very rare occurrence. Altogether, there exist only seven general weeklies in the U.S., and of these SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is the only one founded since World War II.
The years since that war have seen scores of business successes. We all know about such glamour stocks as IBM and Xerox and Litton, whose achievements require brilliant inventiveness and dedicated management. But—and I may be excused for being an extremist (hyperbolist) on this occasion—none of these industrial and commercial miracles involves such risks and difficulties as establishing a national weekly.
To be sure, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is a small business as business goes these days: its gross is only a little over $25 million and, while the net profit isn't hay, we are not yet earning the 10% after taxes that is a businessman's par for the course. That is for tomorrow. Still, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED could not be rated as an established institution unless it had met the test of the market. Nobody is going to subsidize a sports weekly. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED makes its way in a free society solely by its appeal to free men and women.
That spirit of freedom was proclaimed, 10 years ago, in the very first announcement of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. We said: nobody has to read this magazine. We said: you don't have to read SPORTS ILLUSTRATED as part of your civic duty or even for your own good or as a status symbol. Men and women are invited to read SPORTS ILLUSTRATED only by their own choice and for their own enjoyment.
And that surely is the spirit of sport itself. Sport, in every form, imposes the strictest of disciplines. The man who runs a less-than-four-minute mile must arrive at the tape as nearly as possible in a state of exhaustion. A double play is a matter of split seconds. You don't take five strokes off your golf score without intense concentration. But you enter into these excruciating disciplines by your own free will.
And so it was that 10 years ago we entered into the keenest form of competition when we launched SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. We set out to compete for the attention of people with many interests, and our only hope of attracting that attention was by an outstanding editorial performance.
As the first Managing Editor you gave the magazine its basic format and its initial momentum. You put SPORTS ILLUSTRATED well on the way to attracting 1 million regular paying customers. When you became Publisher in 1960, we were fortunate to have Andre Laguerre to take over as Managing Editor. He has stepped up the pace, he has set even higher standards so that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED can celebrate its 10th anniversary as a real winner on all counts.
On this occasion I should like to congratulate you especially on two achievements.
First to be noted is the very high quality of the writing that pervades the magazine. To see the by-lines of such gifted writers as Jack Olsen or Gerald Holland or Robert Boyle or Al Wright is to know that the story that follows will be a pleasure not only for what it tells, but for the style in which it is told. And a cheer, too, for your nonstaffers—for John Dos Passos and Catherine Drinker Bowen and Clare Boothe Luce and Alec Waugh.
Then I congratulate you on the art in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. In Richard Gangel you have, in my view, one of the greats among art directors in America. His talents show in his use of fine photography, in his attention to detail on every page and, most impressively, in the brilliant modern painters whom he has brought to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED—modern painters who can communicate to a wide audience. What a pleasure it was to watch the strong, delicate horses of Saul Steinberg or to stare at the bulbous hockey players of André Fran√ßois! Who can ever forget being in the mountains of Persia with the Shah's gun and Bob Peak's brush? To Peak we are also indebted for the best paintings ever done of pro football.
I must bring this letter to a close with so much still to be said. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is a magazine of which its staff—and its proprietors—are intensely proud. It is a magazine that, by all the evidence, its readers are happy to enjoy. That was the big idea in the first place.
I don't know how you can do better—but I expect you will.
Olé. Bravo. Good luck.
SIDNEY L. JAMES