Note: This Editor’s Letter appears on page 5 of the Dec. 26 issue, on newsstands Wednesday.
We expected surprises, and still we were surprised. The decision of what to put on the cover of Sports Illustrated has been the top editor’s since the founding of the magazine in 1954. There have been eight such editors. Some have thought choosing the cover was the most interesting part of the job and others the most difficult, but either way they guarded it. Some were collaborative, others not so much.
The idea that the editor should relinquish that call this week and ask fans to choose the cover came from Scott Novak, SI’s vice president of communications. Novak is editorial minded and brilliant at driving connections with readers through social-media platforms such as the SI Facebook page, where he proposed to invite visitors to vote for the best sports moment of the year, with the winner featured on the year-end cover. The argument against him was simple: As much as readers may second-guess the magazine’s cover choices, that’s where they want SI’s credibility and authority to start. And who said the voters would be readers in the first place? But the argument Novak, his team and a growing number of staffers made was that letting the public in on the selection process would strengthen the bond between the magazine and its readers and, further, allow SI to plug into a new two-way relationship with a wider landscape of sports fans.
For the First Time Ever YOU Pick the Cover of Sports Illustrated By Choosing The Best Sports Moment of 2011Posted: December 9, 2011
For nearly 60 years the cover of Sports Illustrated has defined the story of the day in sports. Upon its release, the iconic cover image stirs a spectrum of passionate dialog, debate, celebration, criticism and for those who believe in jinxes, fear. But there has always been one constant in that the cover choice has rested in the hands of the SI editorial team. Today, that all changes. Beginning at 3:00 p.m. EST, sports fans can visit SI’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sportsillustrated) to rank the top five sports moments from 2011 drawn from a selection of 15 images which correspond to the editorial staff’s selections for the best sports moments of 2011. The moment that receives the most votes will be featured on the cover of SI’s year-end issue. Voting begins today and will end on Friday, December 16th, the magazine cover that YOU picked will hit newsstands on Wednesday, December 21st.
Why is picking the cover a big deal? Listen to what some of the great athletes who have graced the cover had to say:
“To be on the cover of Sports Illustrated it’s kind of a stamp of approval that you’ve made it,” said Sugar Ray Leonard who has appeared on the SI cover 12 times.