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Making an Entrance
Terry McDonell
March 05, 2007
There is an old and inside joke about Time Inc. and its magazines, including Sports Illustrated. The joke starts with a question: How many people does it take to change a lightbulb at Time Inc.?
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March 05, 2007

Making An Entrance

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There is an old and inside joke about Time Inc. and its magazines, including Sports Illustrated. The joke starts with a question: How many people does it take to change a lightbulb at Time Inc.?

Punch line: One hundred; one to replace the actual bulb and ninety-nine to stand around and talk about how great the old bulb was.

That's the way it is at all institutions, really, but sports heighten everything, so this was always considered a pretty good joke around SI. The problem, of course, is that all such institutional jokes suggest perilous self-congratulation and the kind of if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it thinking that can leave you with gloomy souvenirs.

Scorecard began in 1960, described as "Events & Discoveries of the Week" and overflowing with short, inevitably arch tidbits and asides concerning the culture behind sport with no "s." Over the years it was edited by some of SI's best talent, picking up harder-edged observation and opinion. But what it didn't reflect was the voice and perspective of athletes themselves. That arrived three years ago with a run of aggressively graphic pages following Scorecard that were pioneered by senior editor Kostya Kennedy. The idea was to bring readers not just inside the game but inside the heads and lives of those who played. Hence Players and regular features such as How It Feels ... (to hit a walk-off home run or make a three-pointer), My Workout, The Players Poll and Tale of My Tattoo. Kennedy also began writing the incisive Hot-Not column, a destination point that now scores higher among readers than anything in the history of the front of the book.

Not surprisingly, Players was also a hit with athletes as varied as David Ortiz, Danica Patrick and Chad Johnson, who were all particularly taken with the First Person interviews and unconventional photo shoots. "Everyone thinks football players are one-dimensional, but this section lets guys show different sides of themselves," says Saints Pro Bowl end Will Smith, who was featured cooking with Emeril Lagasse in the Feb. 5 SI.

The venerable Scorecard section, meanwhile, was undergoing a relentless tune-up by senior editors Mark Bechtel and Stephen Cannella, who made the section both newsier and funnier and drove it to an alltime high in reader satisfaction. Time to connect the dots.

Starting with this issue, the Players section is expanding to include the most popular elements of the old Scorecard--For the Record, Sign of the Apocalypse and They Said It. The rubric Scorecard is now the heading of a reported essay bringing together various themes and ironies of a given week and setting the tone for assorted new takes, angles and elements that all begin on page 18.

These changes came after three months of meetings and memos, with numerous writers and editors contributing ideas and wisecracks. So now another lightbulb at SI has been changed. Actually more than one. Let us know what you think at letters@SI.timeinc.com.

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