May 1, 2009

Sports Illustrated, But Why?

Print More

Some things are sacred to a sports fan.
Whether it’s an object or an experience — from a cherished autograph to uninterrupted TV time when your team is playing — interfering in those things is not a good idea. Someone, however, did just that to me this week, and I’m mad as hell.
When I got my latest copy of Sports Illustrated in the mail earlier this week, it looked the same as always … on the surface. But as soon as I opened those glossy pages, I realized that something was terribly wrong.
SI had been redesigned seemingly overnight — more empty white space, less creative font choices — overall, way more boring, even jarring, to look at.
This past week, I have been examining these pages from the perspective of both a faithful reader of the magazine and with an eye for design as the editor of The Sun’s weekend magazine, Red Letter Daze.
Now, maybe I’m biased in favor of the format I am accustomed to, or maybe I do not have the expertise to have a legitimate opinion on SI’s design changes, but they make no sense to me.
The designers who tweaked such beloved SI features as Who’s Hot/Who’s Not seem to have been so obsessed with fitting everything into neat little boxes that all the life was sapped out of them.
I’m perfectly fine with the fact that the “inside” pages moved from the back to the front, and the newly expanded Vault feature in the back is a welcome content addition — content changes aside, however, I don’t see any reason why SI would make so many superficial changes to its design elements, completely without warning.
The only reasons I can think of is that SI felt the need to do this are either 1) doing something different just for the sake of doing something different — making changes to attract new readers in some sort of marketing campaign, or 2) … to save money by using less ink because so much space that used to hold text or graphics is now nothing.
Maybe that last one was a little bit of a joke, but maybe not.
Now, it’s not as if I’m going to stop reading Sports Illustrated just because the design annoys me; but in these times of change and turmoil — from world events to my upcoming status as a senior to the reign of the Yankees — one of the things that I like to think we can depend on is consistency in sports journalism. I don’t like it when the rug is pulled out from under me in one of the few arenas that I’ve found consistent comfort.
Sports Illustrated, do a girl a favor and stop trying to be something you’re not.
That goes for all you readers too, especially seniors who are still trying to figure out their lives post-Cornell. Sit back and enjoy Slope Day, and hopefully SI (and the rest of the world) will follow our lead.