November 21, 1997 at 05:00 AM EST

The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine

Current Status
In Season
Michael MacCambridge
Pop Culture
We gave it an A-

Back in the ’50s, when Sports Illustrated originated, many at parent company Time Inc. (which also owns ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY) viewed the magazine as ”an expensive, misguided, and inherently trivial folly.” An improbable French-born editor and a team of gifted, irreverent, often drunk sportswriters helped change all that. If it took a while for the magazine to turn a profit, it took rather less time for it to become an American institution — and a potent force for social change through its groundbreaking reporting on race and gender issues. Though The Franchise, Michael MacCambridge’s lively, gossipy account of the magazine’s ups and downs, contains a bit too much office politics for outsiders, anybody who’s ever worked in journalism — or aspired to — can’t help but be fascinated. A-

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