On Catching Up on Sports Illustrated


I started getting a subscription to Sports Illustrated right after the Patriots won its first Super Bowl.  Ever since then, I’ve been dutifully paying the annual $100 or so annual subscription fee, but truth be told, I never similarly dutifully read the magazine.  The darn thing kept on coming every week, some issues (notably the annoying “double issues”) were brutally long, and I simply could not get myself to consistently open it and read it.

But since I’d invested an annual fee of $100, I couldn’t get myself to just throw every issue in the recycling bin.  Besides, if nothing else, I’d always enjoyed Rick Reilly’s back page column and every issue was worth saving if only to one day read that single page.

So the issues piled up, and up, and up.  I’d occassionally throw them away in bunches when, say, I moved out of my Boston apartment to move back to New Jersey or when the Patriots lost the Super Bowl, but I randomly saved many issues.  The result is that by the middle of this year,  my room was full of Sports Illustrated dating back to early 2006, my readership of them mostly consisting of seeing the cover photograph and reading the headline.

Starting May of this year, as I was able to dump off majority of my administrative work to my interns and the remaining obligations as a law clerk already was second nature, I tackled Sports Illustrated with the goal of cleansing my room of unwanted junk, a goal I knew I could see myself through.

I thought the endeavor would take about three to four months after I counted about 15 issues to be read.  Half way through the process, I found another 15 issues seemingly out of nowhere, postponing the day I would feel some sense of achievement for another three months.  Reading 30 issues is bad enough, but you have to remember, new issues continued to come in the mail every week, making the process excruciatingly slow.

I am pleased to report (although no one probably cares) that the SI backlog is now down to two issues:  last year’s Sportsman of the Year issue, part of which I read a year ago (and damn it, have to be re-read again because I forgot the contents), and the end of the year issue, which mentions the Patriot’s undefeated regular season, so will be mostly skipped.

The system I currently have in place has proven to be quite efficient.  I would read the current issue on the train, on my way to work or while going out.  A backlog  issue would be on my bedside, to be read in the comfortable, embarassment-free confines of my own apartment before I go to bed.  When I cannot finish the current issue before the next one arrives, the old(er) current issues goes to my bedside and given priority over the old(est) issue.  When I do finish before the week is up, like now, I carry with me the bedside backlog issue.  I swear at least one person on the train looked at me funny when I was reading an issue from August 2006 a couple weeks ago.

Eliminating SI backlog was surpringly proved gratifying.  For example, besides the back page column (which has somewhat dropped in quality since Reilly left SI for ESPN), I’ve learned that I love the “Players” section which provides an intersting insight into some current sports event.  I have also begun to learn the names of atheletes beecause of personal stories or atheletes in the context of some bigger picture; in the past, I could never remember names from simply reading recap of games or news of the leagues.  And although I continue to skip most stories on boxing, NASCAR, the NBA and the NHL, if the story seems intriguing enough, I read them, which has allowed me to get to (re)know these sports a little better.

But the greatest fun has been googling names after I read a story from a year or two ago to read about the aftermath.  So I learned that a reporter for USC’s school paper who tried out for the football team as a story and made the team as a walk-on now runs a website for the USC Trojans.  Or that a two-time Olympian in two different sports successfully became the first three time Olympian in three sports.  Or that Sean Avery continues to jump from team to team even though in a piece from a year and a half ago, he promised to behave.  Or that Allen Iverson, who was traded to the Nuggets from the Sixers, failed to deliver a championship to Denver and was traded (okay, most of you probably knew that, but I’ve been divorced from the NBA for years).

I will obviously have better things to do when my backlog runs out, no later than the end of this month.  But I can honestly say I will miss this daily exercise of the past six months, if only because I don’t get to play my own version of “Where are they now?”

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5 Responses to “On Catching Up on Sports Illustrated”


  1. 1 Chris Schroeck December 17, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    When I subscribed to SI, the same thing happened. It’s just too frequent to read. If it were bi-weekly, I would probably still have a subscription, but it frustrated me to no end that I couldn’t get the issues read. One of the things that I find most interesting about SI is that you can actually choose not to receive the February swimsuit issue. There’s usually a reminder in the issue before that if you would be offended by the swimsuit issue, you can call and cancel that delivery. I wonder how many people are so offended by women in bathing suits that they take the time to do that. Probably quite a few, really.

  2. 2 joesas December 17, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Oh yes, the swimsuit opt-out option. I recall in one “Letter to the Editor,” a priest wrote that he has kept every issue of SI for the last 30 years in his study, except the swimsuit issue. Who else do you think will opt-out? You think the whole Southern Bible Belt?

  3. 3 Chris Schroeck December 18, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Yeah, a whole bunch of the south probably opts out. Also, probably some married guys’ wives call in and opt out for them.

  4. 4 joesas December 18, 2008 at 9:46 am

    You know, I never thought about the wives…


  1. 1 On Random BC Thoughts « The World According to Joe Trackback on December 18, 2008 at 12:05 pm

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