cover image The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine

The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine

Michael MacCambridge. Hyperion Books, $24.45 (356pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-6216-0

Subscribers to Sports Illustrated as well as readers interested in the media and/or sports will be captivated by MacCambridge's account of the launch and growing pains of what would become the nation's leading sports magazine. He charts the evolution of SI from its first issue in 1954, as a money-losing publication with little focus, to one of the country's most profitable and influential magazines. MacCambridge, a freelance journalist, credits much of the success of SI to Andre Laguerre, who served as managing editor from 1960 to 1974, during which time advertising revenues grew from $12 million to $72 million and circulation increased to 2.2 million from 900,000. In addition, Laguerre assembled an editorial team who elevated sports writing to more than merely reporting on the winners and losers of particular games. Indeed, MacCambridge makes it clear that he views Laguerre's reign at SI as the magazine's glory years when such writers as Dan Jenkins, Bud Shrake, Tex Maule, Roy Blount Jr. and Frank Deford were on the staff, and the magazine did not face competition from sports radio talk shows or television, in particular ESPN (which SI's parent company, Time Inc., could have bought shortly after the launch of the channel). The strength of MacCambridge's story lies in his description of the colorful personalities who put out the magazine, ranging from Laguerre's team to others important in SI's development, especially former managing editor Mark Mulvoy and the current Bill Colson. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)