Everybody likes to read about records, and week by week we do our best to keep you up to date on big ones ( Hank Aaron's pursuit of No. 714) and lesser ones (Donna Aycoth's 8:26:07 in the 50-mile hike-run). A few, such as the feat of the Villa Park, Ill. man who recently stuffed 279 sticks of peppermint gum into his mouth in hopes of getting his name in the Guinness Book of World Records, we think it best to keep to ourselves.
And so, record conscious, we see no reason not to inform you that you are holding a record in your hands: the largest issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ever published. It contains the most pages, the most advertising and, as a special plus, more editorial pages in color closed at our latest deadline than we have ever printed in a single week.
To produce such an issue is a considerable satisfaction, though the superlatives by themselves do not mean a great deal. The important thing is how much they say about the enormous growth of sport and public interest in it since SI was founded 19 years ago by the late Henry R. Luce. Looking back, you can see how much of a visionary Luce was about sport and about the chances of success for a weekly national sports magazine. Remember pro sports at that time? There was, in 1954, no major league baseball west of St. Louis. There was no National Hockey League team west of the Mississippi, only two National Football League teams (the 49ers and the Rams) and only one team from the National Basketball Association—the Lakers, up in Minneapolis. A major part of this week's issue is devoted to our annual preview of the pro basketball scene—and the size of the issue is no coincidence. The explosive growth of this sport has coincided with SI's own. There were only eight NBA teams in 1954, and SI's coverage of them was very nearly nonexistent. There are 27 teams in two leagues today, and fan interest has multiplied at an astonishing rate. So has our coverage.
Figures on the growth of the major professional sports are but one measure of what has happened in the recreation and leisure areas since Si's founding, and maybe not the most important one. New spectator attractions are emerging—soccer for instance. College-level sports, for all their fiscal and recruitment problems, continue to thrive. And the growth in participant sports has been the most phenomenal of all—tennis of course (up 15% in the Past year), but also golf and boating and skiing and hiking and a host of others. Who jogged 10 years ago? How many people backpacked?
The essence of SI is that it encompasses all of sport at a time when this activity has become an important, even vital, ingredient in U.S. life—like vitamins or the right amount of protein in the diet. Sport itself has come to typify the very well-being of our society today. From its first issue SI has tried to express each week the exuberance of this ingredient.
As sport has grown, the problems involved by reporting it faster and more completely have become increasingly complex. The new capacity we have just added for reproducing more color faster than ever before is one approach we are taking to keep SI abreast of the world it covers.
There is a saying in sport that records are made to be broken. And that, by gum, goes for the records we've just set this week, too. Chew that one over while you wait for the next biggest....