Sports Illustrated: The Early Covers


AUGUST 16, 1954 (PREMIER ISSUE)/AUG.8, 1955


 MAY 28, 1973/AUG.23, 1971


DEC.9, 1968 / AUG.9,1965

I discovered the SI VAULT a few months ago, where the cover of every Sports Illustrated issue ever published is on display. Sports Illustrated was first published in 1959 and founded by Time magazine patriarch Henry Luce. Prior to that there was no general sports magazine with a national following. At the time, many believed sports were not worthy of serious journalism, much less a magazine of their own.

What treat it is to see the magazine in its early days, when the chic sporty lifestyle was as much a cover story as the NFL, NBA and MLB, and then President John F.Kennedy and first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy boating were the embodiment of that lifestyle. It is also nice to see sports photography that is not so razor sharp as is the norm in the digital age, but almost painterly and symbolic of eras passed, when professional sports had an innocence that we don’t often see today.

Above and below are a few of my favorites covers, but you can see them all at SI VAULT.


SEPT.19, 1960 / DEC.20, 1954


APR. 25,1960 / JUN. 18, 1962


JUNE 2, 1969 /MARCH 8,1965


MAY 29, 1961/FEB.28,1955


JAN.21, 1963 / NOV. 17, 1969