Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

A Sad Postmortem On NYT's Play Magazine

Sigh. Columbia's New York Review of Magazines has a lengthy look at the "the short, happy, tragic life" of Play, the Times' much-beloved sports magazine and, for my money, sportswriting's last good shot.

If you never read Play, which folded in November after a three-year run, then you should begin posthaste with David Foster Wallace's essay about Roger Federer. It is as fine a piece of sports prose as you'll ever come across, and now almost too heartbreaking to read. According to the NYRM story (maddeningly unlinkable and unpastable), the piece came about after this amusingly brief exchange between Foster Wallace and Play editor Mark Bryant:


If the result seems toweringly high-minded for a sports outlet, that's because the magazine was born in opposition to everything else on the newsstand. Times Magazine editor Gerald Marzorati cooked up the idea for Play during a layover in Boston:

Maybe, if you squinted hard, you could imagine the Foster Wallace story in Sports Illustrated. Maybe. It's a sad state of affairs when a magazine premised on the idea that sportswriting is more than just a wordy ad campaign for whatever's on ESPN that week is too fragile and idealistic to live past the age of 3. RIP.

Game Over [NYRM]
Roger Federer As Religious Experience [New York Times]

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