But by the early 1970s, Macfadden, lacking Time’s deep pockets, was fading, and was swallowed up by successively larger companies, eventually winding up in the hands of the Charter Company. There was also a corresponding zig-zag in editorial direction, and gradually SPORT lost its way, its distinctive voice and, eventually, its presence. A brief revival occurred in 1981, when the magazine was purchased by Wick Allison. Allison installed David Bauer, currently deputy managing editor of Sports Illustrated, as editor. Under Bauer, SPORT sharply improved its design and editorial direction, making the magazine profitable for the first time in years. However, Allison and Bauer soon moved on to other projects, the magazine was sold to another group, and the decline continued.
The end of SPORT
SPORT’s demise was duly mourned. Allen Barra, writing in Salon.com, put it this way: “Though it didn’t make any headlines, the news of the death of SPORT magazine … must have put a lump in the throat of those old enough to remember the greatest of all American sports magazines … Sports Illustrated was great, but SI, in an era when you couldn’t see all the highlights every night, was read for news; SPORT was for reflection.” And, in a rare departure for the competitive magazine industry, SI itself paid tribute to SPORT on its own pages with a poignant piece that began, “They closed the barbershop last week, the one in town, the first place — not counting school or a friend’s house — where your mother would drop you off and leave you …”