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Sporting News Spoofs Rival Magazine

February 18, 1998

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Sports Illustrated and other sports magazines have their annual swimsuit editions. Now, The Sporting News has the anti-swimsuit issue: a cover featuring a burly football player wearing a bikini.

``It’s a spoof on Sports Illustrated, but also a little bit more of a comment about the fact that a lot of sports fans don’t want swimsuit issues,″ said John Rawlings, editor of The Sporting News.

Sports Illustrated spokeswoman Robin Shallow said 55 million readers can’t be wrong. That’s the number of people, including 19 million women, who will read the swimsuit edition, she said.

And Shallow noted that the swimsuit issue is a bonus: Subscribers will also get a regular issue featuring an Olympic skier on the cover.

``Everybody that’s looking for sports coverage is still going to get it,″ she said. ``We’re definitely serving our sports fans’ interest.″

The Sporting News anti-swimsuit edition was to arrive at newsstands today _ the same day Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue shows up.

``We did this very calculatingly so people will see their swimsuit cover on the newsstand and ours, hopefully, next to it,″ Rawlings said.

The contrast will be obvious. Sports Illustrated features German model Heidi Klum on its cover. The Sporting News has a man wearing a football helmet, bikini top and bottom, and a menacing glare. The cover headline reads, ``Swimsuits Don’t Fit Us.″

There’s no anti-swimsuit story inside, though columnist Dave Kindred writes about the subject ``in a roundabout way,″ Rawlings said.

In December, The Sporting News redesigned to feature a glossier magazine-style format _ it was previously printed in a tabloid style. As part of the redesign, the St. Louis-based publication did research asking readers what they wanted.

``The research we’ve done has shown that real sports fans don’t want swimsuits, even in the dead of winter,″ Rawlings said.

Many readers were also concerned about the content of swimsuit editions, Rawlings said. In addition to Sports Illustrated, Sport and Inside Sports magazines also have them.

``Having a 9-year-old, that’s something I’m really sensitive to,″ Rawlings said.

The Sporting News anti-swimsuit cover is for newsstand buyers only. Subscribers are getting a cover featuring Indiana Pacers coach Larry Bird.

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