Sports Illustrated



An Introduction to Sports Illustrated


Sports Illustrated (SI) was the first ever sports magazine to cover current sports events. It premiered on August 16, 1954 and was the brain child of Henry Luce, the publisher of Time Magazine. At the time, sports journalism was thought of as frivolous and that there wouldn’t be a market for it. Luce’s contemporaries tried to dissuade him from starting the magazine and he persisted. Although the magazine was not profitable for its first 12 years, it is now a power house with over 3 million subscribers and 23 million weekly readers. It has spurred many ‘spin offs,’ including Sports Illustrated Kids, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition (which has its own brand, television presence, calendars, etc.), Sports Illustrated Women, and editions in Canada and Australia.


The magazine also is known for many innovations including large, color photos that were linked to ‘up to the moment’ sports news, celebrity covers, awards, and Sportsperson of the Year. Sports Illustrated photographers were world class and pioneered exciting shots, such as behind the goalie and behind the basketball net.


Their website is multi-dimensional and very interactive. On it you can find team information, game scores, a fan site, articles, blog, college and pro information, video, ads and dozens of links to Fantasy Football, Podcasts, and schedules, standings and rankings of every sport. And of course, lots and lots of great color photos, that SI is famous for.


When thinking about their branding or messaging, I think it’s all about the excitement of being up-close with the game, the athlete and the sport. Their fantastic photos, in-depth analysis and interviews make you feel you are really at the center of sports. They make you feel like a part of the sports world – and you are – as a super fan.



Social Media Presence Summary





SI has a very dynamic Facebook page. The Cover Photo captures dozens of magazine covers. The site has 2,985,251 likes and 2,944,519 followers. The posts are varied and interesting. Again, great photos, getting you up close and personal with the sport, videos, dramatic news clips from recent sports games, some varied content (hockey training for 9 year-old kids in Russia), profiles (Muhammad Ali), trade gossip, college sports and just about everything you would want to know in the moment.


The About section is very brief: the date of founding, mission statement (to deliver premier journalism and give unparalleled perspective on the world of sports), and Company Overview (delivers more than 150 original stories to users each week). They post frequently. In the time it took to write this they posted four posts. The top viewed video at the top of the site is Donald Trump at the CFP Title game (3,400 likes and 1,600 comments). There are lots of comments and likes on each post, but SI does not seem to engage in the conversation.


I think SI has a great Facebook page and it is appropriate for the company’s branding. I think they do a good job of updating the site and keeping it fresh and relevant. I found it interesting and I think other sports fans will too.


You Tube

The Tagline of the SI You Tube Page is “New Videos Every Day,” so I guess that says it! The top video of the page is an interview with Jabari Parker of the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s 10 minutes long and a very good and interesting video, with footage of him playing, cooking with his family, etc. The site has 135,060 subscribers, and the menu shows video, playlists, community, channels, and About. There are a number of other channels suggested (SI Swimsuit Channel, Sport Illustrated Kids, Time,, Entertainment Weekly and even This Old House). Most posts have between 300-400 views but there are some videos that have as many as 15,000 views: 24 Hours with Sports Power Couple: Eagles’ Azch Ertz and USWNT’s Julie Ertz.



The SI You Tube presence is pretty robust. To post a new video every day means they have a pretty large production team who are on the lookout for good and interesting content. I like that they mix it up with videos of college sports, children’s sports, and a more personal view of athletes. Again, they are keeping you up close and personal with the world of sports.



The Twitter header looks just like the Cover Photo of the Facebook page (the magazine covers) and the logo also appears. SI has 1.74 million followers and it is following 1,752. Their Twitter handle is @SInow. There are 247,000 tweets and 2,493 likes. They send a tweet every 3-4 minutes. Posts vary and include video, photographs, new clips and information from other sites (for example, they are showcasing the applications for the New York City Marathon). The commentary from SI is pretty personal and contains humor. A funny post caption was: Great toss+no broken TV = (symbol for like), featuring a funny video of a small boy throwing a ball through a hoop poised right in front of a flat screen TV held by his Dad. This was a retweet of a fan no doubt.


I liked that the Twitter page was a bit more jokey and fun than the other social media platforms. I think the shorter format of Twitter allows them to take more risks. I do like that they have links from fans’ sites.


Pinterest and Tumblr

On Pinterest and Tumblr, SI can really come into its own and show the great photography they are famous for. Particularly on the Tumblr site which has great color photo reproduction. Every month they post a dozen or so of their top photographs with hashtags. Here’s a great one of Venus and Serena Williams:


Photo by Bob Martin


I was surprised to see a Pinterest page but it shows how big their media staff is. The page has 31,880 Followers and they are following 108. There are many different categories of pins: On the Cover, College Football, News and Updates, The Thrill of Victory, Sports Pets, Vintage Sports and, of course, SI Swimsuit.


Extra Mustard

It was hard to find an actual blog on as there is so much news content. But there is a blog attached called Extra Mustard, News of the Day. The tagline of this blog is “Where Culture Meets Sports.”


This is a collection of news stories and opinion pieces by Sports Illustrated journalists. They are off beat and not focused on the game, statistics, etc. They seem to be highlighting items of special interest off the beaten path. For example, one headline is, “Eagles Fan Ejected from Game, Arrested for Punching Police Officer and His Horse.” This is the kind of article you would not expect to see on their main website, or on any of their social media sites. There are a number of tags at the end of the article, but nowhere to comment. This surprised me. In fact, I looked around the website in depth and couldn’t find a place where there was a real dialogue with fans.




SI has 1 million followers on Instagram, 8,676 posts and is following 589. Again, they have great images and they each get thousands of likes. They post videos too, but they have a very limited use of hashtags. There is nothing particularly distinct about their Instagram feed and it looks like they don’t put a lot of effort into it.


Analysis of SI’s Overall Social Media Presence

Sports Illustrated must have a huge staff invested in social media. They have multiple platforms and are posting regularly on all of them. Each is branded with their signature photos and up to the minute sports coverage. They employ dozens, if not hundreds of journalists, who are great writers and editors. The quality of their coverage is excellent. They must have an army of photographers – that’s got to be a great job. I especially enjoyed their Tumblr page as I love good photography and I think this format really suits what they are best at. I think their social media does a great job of keeping followers informed and talking about the latest sports news.



Digital Footprint

On Google, there are 24,400,000 results for Sports Illustrated. Of course, the first listing is for subscriptions, then it’s the SI website, then Twitter, You Tube and Facebook. That is followed by a Wikipedia page, Sports Illustrated Kids site, and the SI Swimsuit calendar available on Amazon. At about page 3 of Google, there begins to be articles about Sports Illustrated from other journals, such as the magazine going bi-weekly, who is on the cover, etc. Lucky for SI – there are no scandals at the moment. There is nothing unexpected on Google, at least for the first dozen pages. Their digital footprint is completely aligned to their brand.



Overall, SI does a very good job of promoting their brand and satisfying their fans. They have a consistent presence over all of the social media platforms. Their photos are terrific and their journalism is first rate. I would, however, like to see more interaction with fans and more places where there could be dialogue. It would also be fun for them to have more imaginative links to some of the great blogs being done by fans. They could be more creative in their posting of interesting news items about fitness, etc. Overall, I was glad to see minimal advertising and promotion. That is a real credit to their desire to be a reputable journal.







For the purposes of this Case Study, I have decided to focus on the social media output of Adidas Originals. Not surprisingly, Adidas has a huge media presence. A Google search reveals 997,000,000 results. There are two principal Adidas brands on social media: Adidas and Adidas Originals.

There are two major Facebook pages: Adidas: with 32,504,604 likes and 32,398,517 followers, and Adidas Originals: with 31,580,143 likes this and 31,074,389 followers.

On Twitter, the official Adidas Twitter Account is Adidas Originals @adidasoriginals. On Twitter, there are 172,200 tweets, 3.91 million followers, 382 follows, and 9,302 likes. Adidas joined Twitter in October, 2015. There is also @adidasus which has 830,000 followers and is following 381.

On Instagram, Adidas Originals has 24,000,000 followers and is following 200. There are 3,800 posts. The Instagram username is adidasoriginals. Adidas has 17.9 million followers and follows 120. The site has 930 posts. The user name is adidas.


Analysis I have used the Adidas Originals brand for this analysis.

FacebookWhen you look at the cover photo of the Adidas Originals on Facebook, you see the tagline, “Originals Never Finish.” They change their cover photo frequently from bands, to athletes to shoes to moody, edgy graphics. You can tell they are trying to project an edgy, urban feel. On the About tab, you learn that the company was founded in 1920. There is a very lengthy overview of the rules of engaging on their site. They say that they, “want everyone to feel comfortable,” so they lay out the list of behaviors they do not approve of such as, threatening or abusive language, posts encouraging a criminal offense, defamatory or misleading posts, etc.


The timeline is interesting and, not surprisingly, has a lot of images of Adidas shoes. But there are also many videos: commercials, clothing photos, and athletes modeling. The top You Tube films featured on the site are an ad campaign, based on Frank Sinatra’s famous song, My Way.



The ads are playing on the theme that “original” doesn’t mean you have to be the first.” Here is an article about the campaign in Ad Week:


The top posts on the timeline vary from reactions to the videos, to complaints and praise of the products. The You Tube ads have had over 12 million views. Posts seem to be all created by the company’s advertising department. They are almost exclusively product driven. It’s actually quite comical to see specific complaints in the posts, such as this one, “IS THERE A PROBLEM WITH THE WEBSITE? I’VE BEEN TRYING TO PAY MY ORDER ONLINE SINCE YESTERDAY!!! NO PROBLEM WITH MY CARDS! WHAT’S GOING ON? IT SAYS WE ARE VERY SORRY… Unfortunately, we could not complete your order at this time. For more information, please contact Customer Service at 800-982-9337 (8AM ET – 11PM ET).”


To be honest, I think the site is boring. There are no likes of other posts, and there doesn’t seem to be a strong point of view about anything except the products. I would have thought that a company like Adidas would have a more creative Facebook page.


The five most recent posts are from several days ago, and they are simply bland reactions to products. Nothing stood out. In fact, I was surprised how little attention seems to be paid to the page by the company. I think it could be much more dynamic, with photos of how people look in Adidas shoes, where they go, what kind of lifestyle the shoes lend themselves to.



On Adidas Originals page, you again have the banner image of the My Way ad from You

Tube. There is also the Adidas logo as the profile picture. Again, just like on Facebook, the posts are primarily about products. In fact, the Twitter feed looks very much like the Facebook pages: lots of pictures of shoes and clothing. Their media is their ad campaign, and not a very interesting one. There are certainly some retweets and likes, the recent ad video has 11,800 likes and 2,236 retweets (although it has 32.2 million views on You Tube).


As far as responding to tweets, they do seem to respond, although not that regularly. The most recent responses were two days ago. And they were very brief. They seem to respond to individuals.


Just out of interest and for comparison, I decided to look at the Nike Twitter feed. This was really interesting. Their feed was much more complex and interesting, with many more posts from individuals, videos and pictures of athletes and, of course, plenty of shoes. New Balance also had a lot of more interesting commentary on sports, especially marathons around the country, with lots of pictures of ordinary people, and some fun videos. I think Adidas can learn from these two competitors’ Twitter feeds.



Not surprisingly, the Instagram page looks just like the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages. The exact same pictures of clothes and shows appear here, in the exact same colors. The profile picture is the logo. As they have millions of followers on Instagram, the photos have a lot of views, several hundred thousand for each photo. They have a kind of a humorous play on color going on in their posts, for example: “Eat Your Greens,” for a green shirt and “Spice It Up,” for a red color ad. They are using the hashtag #ADICOLOR, which seems to be a current clothing campaign. I took a look at the comments and they are pretty much about the clothes (whether people like them or not), the model (whether they think she’s pretty), the colors (“do you have it in pink”?).


What’s interesting is that they have a few posts about something a bit more interesting. For example, they have a post about artist, Terrace Martin, who they say is “expanding the boundaries of sound.” They have a link to some other artists as well. This seems to play on the ‘Originals’ theme.



Clearly, Adidas puts more effort into Instagram than any of the other social media platforms. I wondered whether the fact that you can’t do too much writing on Instagram made it easier for them to interact with their audience without taking too many risks.


The main comment I would have for all their social media is that they need to find a way to be more relevant and interesting. I think companies need to take a little more risk in demonstrating their connection to other aspects of life such as events, other media, maybe even politics. Then, I think this approach would make them more interesting to follow unless, of course, all you wanted to do was buy shoes!

Case Study #3


The Blog I decided to analyze is It’s a baseball blog written by Tim Dierkes, a Cubs fan from Roselle, Illinois. Here is the link:

This is a very popular site for baseball news and gossip. In a recent article in Craine’s, writer Danny Ecker said, “The 31-year-old Glen Ellyn resident is the man behind, one of the most popular hubs on the Internet for buzz about player-swapping and any other player transaction in big-league baseball. The site’s concept is simple aggregation: Mr. Dierkes filters reports from top journalists on Twitter and RSS feeds about MLB trades and organizes them in an easy-to-consume format on the site’s home page.”


The site is attractive and well organized. The header is very good and has a lot of fun links such as a rotating link called Headlines. I really like that there are three other links in the header that link you to gossip about basketball, football and hockey.


Also, the header has his link to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And there’s a great tagline, “If it’s whispered, we hear it.” In the main column are the blogs. Every blog has a headline in red, there are a number of guest writers on the page. After every blog, there are links to retweet, comment and share.


On the right-hand side bar, there are a lot of navigation tips. For example, you can click on “Recent Posts,” or “Top Stories.” There are also a number of links on Trades, Free Agents, etc. There’s a link to an agency database, Salaries, Twitter links and a Roster Resource. There are eight menu headings: Home, Teams, About, Contact, Tools, NBA/NFL/NHL, APP, Chats. Each Menu item has a number of other links.


The Footer has a Site Map, Archives, Feeds by Teams, Commenting policy, Privacy Policy, Advertiser Link, Twitter Feeds, and Contact. There is a lot of advertising on the site.


The colors of the site are pretty basic, and it reminds you of a newspaper. The headlines are in red and the text is in black. The only real color is provided by the ads. And there are a lot of ads on the site: mortgages, Junior Achievement, Disneyland and even theatre shows.


Tim Dierkes, the blog writer, was in marketing and a passionate Cubs fan when he started the site in 2008. He now is interviewed on radio and television and has become something of a celebrity himself.



Every blog is about something of interest that you wouldn’t read in the newspaper. There are blogs about players’ injuries, about contract negotiations, and a lot is about trades and signings. I was surprised to find that there were not many comments or shares or retweets on each blog, about 3 or 4 retweets and maybe 5 or 6 comments. There are not a lot of videos, but every blog links to a players’ statistics page, with his team photos. Occasionally, there are links to comments from other writers.

Here are the top three blogs on the page:

Matt Garza To Undergo Shoulder Surgery

Diamondbacks Avoid Arbitration With Randall Delgado

Tigers To Sign Brayan Pena


It’s remarkable how popular this site is. The blog is updated every day of the year. In the About section, it states that on July 31, 2015, baseball’s trade deadline, there were 5,245,669 page views. The site has 590,000 Twitter followers, and 137,000 fans on Facebook. On the page, there are testimonials, mostly saying how convenient it is to get all the information a fan needs on one page. The site covers all 30 major league teams and their minor leagues.


I think this is a great site and I’m really glad I found it. I was very impressed to see that many major league players follow the site and comment. This is great, because it creates a dialogue with fans – and there really aren’t many places to do that. Sports commentary is dominated by journalists and television networks. Major league ballplayers are very tightly managed and controlled by their team managers and their agents. It’s very hard to get to know a baseball player, other than in the very short commentary they give after a game. And if they’re not the star of the team, you never hear from them. It’s interesting that on this site, there are comments from MLB players and even some blogs.


If there was one thing I would add, is that there could be more video links. But for this you can always go to the many major league baseball sites that are already available. For me, Videos give me a better idea as to what I am looking at. More often than not I find myself watching videos instead of reading because I feel that I retain information better through videos and pictures.

Baseball’s Beauty


The art within the sport is what makes Baseball so great. Each pitch needing a specific location, and the fact that one has to square up a sphere with a cylinder. There’s an old saying that makes Baseball the greatest sport in the world.


As Earl Weaver said, “You can’t just sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.”

I whole-heartedly believe in this quote. When you think about it, this is what makes Baseball so beautiful. It suggests a new definition of competition. It is the only sport where you have to give the other man a chance and give the other team the exact opportunities that your team gets. It is the only sport where someone can statistically fail and still make it to the Hall of Fame. The beauty of team, and how it cannot be one player who dominated like in basketball or football. You cannot allow one person to hit every time or one person to pitch every game. It is the most individual team sport that there is.

Another part of this beauty is how much that human error can change the outcome of a game. One dropped fly ball can win or lose you a game depending on the situation. Something as little as a pebble on the infield dirt can cause a devastating game 7 loss. Professional Baseball has 162 games. This can show how good a team really is because just about every player on a 40-man roster ends up playing by the end of the season. It doesn’t matter how good the starting nine is.

There are a lot of people who think baseball is dull and too drawn out. But it is the most strategic of all games. It’s like chess with a piece of wood and a ball. It’s an art – and a beautiful one.