Sports Illustrated's decline is one of the saddest stories of the digital age's ravaging of once strong publications.
Michael MacCambridge, who wrote the best history of the magazine's glory years under Andre Laguerre, delivers an insightful autopsy report for Ringer, one of the online sites sucking away at SI's audience.
SI's latest death rattle is switching to biweekly publication, as MacCambridge relates. After a series of staff cutbacks and dubious management decisions, SI and the even more venerable news weekly Time were sold this year to the Iowa-based Meredith Corp., which now seeks to unload the once indispensable publications began by Harry Luce.
Having grown up reading the magazine, loving its weekly accounts of sporting events by Dan Jenkins and other writers and its golf lessons by Jack Nicklaus, I subscribed to SI for a time on my e-reader. But finding little distinctive about the magazine that I couldn't find elsewhere, I canceled the subscription.
I was not alone, as MacCambridge relates. As its print edition founders, SI's web site lacks the spark of sites like the Athletic and Deadspin. ESPN's web site seems newsier.
MacCambrige relates how SI passed on a chance to buy ESPN a few years ago, ceding its sports media dominance to the cable channel, which went on to challenge SI with a print magazine that had stronger appeal to younger sports fans.
SI remains profitable, and perhaps someone like Jeff Bezos will buy it, and Time, and restore their luster. If not, an honorable death will be merciful.