On Monday I received a delightful gift in the mail—Keith at Triple Dead Heat sent me a copy of Sports Illustrated (May 12, 1975) featuring Foolish Pleasure’s Kentucky Derby victory on the cover. What a pleasure to sit down and flip through the magazine, reliving the glorious days of my youth when, for this sports-crazy teenager, Sports Illustrated was the only magazine I absolutely had to read (it was a couple years later that my attention was diverted by Tiger Beat, Seventeen, and others of that ilk).
What I loved about Sports Illustrated then was the way in which the articles fleshed out the back story. Not necessarily the dark side of sport, but the human aspects which newspapers didn’t have the space to fill out. It was the reason I wanted to be a sports journalist. I particularly liked the “Faces in the Crowd” feature, with all the small-time jocks, the average “Joes” (and “Janes”) who had accomplished something noteworthy.
Of all the stories SI has published over the years, the one that stands out most, the one that I still have a much-read wrinkled copy of, is the December 22, 1980 “Sportsmen of the Year” story about the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team. That gold medal-winning team was also the reason I became a hockey fan (it sure wasn’t because of the then-hapless Pittsburgh Penguins).
If you are too young to remember 1980, or just want to wax nostalgic for awhile, read the article, written by E.M. Swift, here. It perfectly contextualizes what that team meant not only to those young men and their coaches, but also to a nation in the midst of a Cold War with the Soviet Union. Kids today don’t fully appreciate the fear of nuclear war that underlied so much of daily life in the 1960s and 1970s—thank god. However, today’s enemies—real or perceived—are not nearly as black-and-white, unfortunately, as the U.S.A. vs. U.S.S.R. At least then you knew exactly who to hate.
The issue that Keith sent me also included the kinds of advertisements typical for the era—plenty of cigarette and liquor ads. One of the ads just happened to feature a horse racing theme as you can see here, which got me thinking...I’d like to gather together images like these, if for nothing more than to prove that, yes, at one time horse racing did sell. So, if you have any magazines with such ads, or know where to find scanned images, please let me know.