As SPORTS ‘N SPOKES heads away from a printed magazine, we look back at what started it all
By Tom Fjerstad
May 1975 was a landmark month, not only for disabled sports but also for disability advocacy and education, as it marked the launch of the first major publication dedicated to wheelchair sports.
When he didn’t have enough room in his PN magazine sports column to cover the then-fast-growing world of wheelchair sports, editor Cliff Crase set out on a mission. He wanted to educate and inform the world about the abilities and accomplishments of wheelchair athletes through the creation of SPORTS ’N SPOKES (S’NS) magazine.
On Page 7 is the inaugural editorial authored by S’NS co-founders Cliff and his wife, Nancy. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you pause here and read that editorial, and then come back to finish my column.
Now, S’NS is making a new shift — it’s going digital-only starting in January 2021. I believe Cliff and Nancy’s desired goals with S’NS magazine will not only continue to be fulfilled, but will be amplified to levels unimaginable when they first started.
Those who knew Cliff will definitely tell you he didn’t eagerly embrace advances in technology, as he continued to prefer his IBM Selectric typewriter over the then new-fangled computers and word processors.
I knew Cliff personally for more than 20 years, and I can say without a doubt that he would have ultimately been thrilled with the new digital magazine and its corresponding website — not because of the format itself, but for its ability to reach a greater audience.
Like me, I’m sure he would greatly miss the feel of the printed publication and turning the pages of a “real” magazine. But I believe he would have found many of the features and benefits of this new format extremely exciting: The ability to have years of back issues on a little device that you hold in your hand versus the bound volumes that sit on your bookshelf — this, combined with the ability to search the issues, makes for a much more exciting and usable library.
With the click of a mouse or the touch of a finger, you can watch video interviews or learn more about an advertised product. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the massive photo libraries, embedded videos in the digital magazine and those found on sportsnspokes.com are worth a million.
The ability to reach a much broader audience, educate, inform and excite the dedicated subscriber and the general public in a more profound and effective manner is something I’m sure Cliff would not only support, but he would find compelling with the new opportunities it offers.
I spoke with Nancy about this transition and she replied with, “Wow! Finally!“
I responded, “But it’s kind of sad …” I didn’t get to finish my sentence when she interjected, “It’s not sad! You can’t look behind you. It’s forward thinking. It’s time to go digital!” I have to admit, I found reassurance and encouragement in her words.
I’m only the third person to sit in the editor’s seat for S’NS and can’t tell you how many nights of sleep I lost while contemplating this transition.
I hope you’ll embrace and enjoy the new format of S’NS, as we continue this journey of enhancing our presence in the world of wheelchair sports and recreation.