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Original Issue


When U.S. Olympic basketball star Sheryl Swoopes, a candidate to
grace the inaugural cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED WOMEN/SPORT,
announced in January that she was pregnant, some SI staffers
were convinced our cover jinx had struck preemptively. But Sandy
Bailey, who edited the premier issue of WOMEN/SPORT, was
delighted. "That settled the issue of who would be on the
cover," she says. "Here was an athlete about to make her debut
in a new pro league, the WNBA. Pregnancy changes everything for
her. You couldn't ask for a better symbol of the differences
between men and women."

Nor could you ask for a better symbol of anticipation, which is
what we at SI are feeling as the first test issue of WOMEN/SPORT
arrives in the mailboxes of 450,000 female SI subscribers this
week and at newsstands by April 21. (A second trial issue is set
for September; each issue can be ordered by calling
1-800-528-5000.) The creation of this magazine is our response
to both the explosive growth of female participation in sports
since the passage of Title IX 25 years ago--in 1971 one of 27
girls participated in high school sports; today, one of three
does--and to the burgeoning popularity of women's sports among
fans. "The stunning success of American women athletes at the
Atlanta Olympics opened eyes," says Bailey. "There were a lot of
women with fascinating stories about breaking barriers, being
ignored, playing in foreign countries. And with leagues like the
WNBA starting up, those stories kept going after the Games. The
time was right to try a magazine like this."

Though WOMEN/SPORT has some elements of traditional women's

magazines, such as sections on health, exercise and new
products, it is unique in its focus on women in sports. In the
first issue, to cite a few examples, SI's Alexander Wolff writes
about the divergent paths taken by Swoopes and other members of
the U.S. Olympic basketball team since Atlanta; Stephanie
Mansfield chronicles the "comeback" of disgraced skater Tonya
Harding; Pulitzer Prize winner Anna Quindlen reveals her midlife
love of weightlifting; and SI's Johnette Howard writes about a
male volleyball coach accused of sexually abusing his female
players. "WOMEN/SPORT contains the same type of important
stories that are associated with SI, and it has SI's same high
standard of journalism and photography," says managing editor
Bill Colson. "But the stories are told from a different
perspective for a different audience. I think readers will find
the pieces provocative and the writing sharp and irreverent."

As a member of the pre-Title IX generation, Bailey shied away
from covering women's sports when she began her career as a
sportswriter at The Clearwater (Fla.) Sun in the 1970s. "I
wanted to show that I knew as much as the guys did about
football, basketball and baseball," says Bailey, who went on to
write and edit for The Washington Post, The International Herald
Tribune and The New York Times before joining SI in '93. "Back
then, you wanted to write stories that, if no byline existed,
you wouldn't know a woman had written. You didn't want to have a
female perspective."

Bailey's attitude, like that of society at large, has changed.
"We've come almost full circle," says Bailey, who sees evidence
of that at home, where her nine-year-old son, Kyle, covets his
12-year-old sister Kathleen's Dot Richardson-autographed
softball. "It's nice that women in sports can finally feel
comfortable being women."

Nice, and long overdue.

COLOR PHOTO: ADAM STOLTMAN Bailey labored over our own new arrival. [Sandy Bailey leaning on cover for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED WOMEN/SPORT]