S. Ram Mahesh
Redesigned by internationally renowned Mario Garcia
Chennai: The Sportstar, India's only sports weekly in English, was relaunched in a new design and format as Sportstar at the mellow-lit Ball Room in the Taj Coromandel hotel here on Wednesday evening.
Cricket legend Kapil Dev handed over the first copies to former tennis champion Ramesh Krishnan and ace athlete P.T. Usha. In the format of a magazine since 1980, Sportstar reverts to the format it was launched in 1978 by The Hindu group - the tabloid.
Kapil, who spoke on the occasion, had the audience in splits with his spontaneous humour. "I think I had more copies of The Sportstar in my home than books," he said. "That's why I couldn't study properly."
On a more serious note, he said "change is always beautiful, but we must also not forget our traditions. I hope the new Sportstar can carry on the tradition of good writing with newer, fresher ideas in this wonderful new design."
"This," he said, pointing to the Sportstar, "is what all sportsmen treasure. It's the dream of every cricketer who wants to play for the country'' to appear in the Sportstar. "You keep records, and these wonderful photographs, which we can look back at and remember our days."
Internationally renowned designer, Dr. Mario Garcia of Garcia Media presented the new design. Dr. Garcia and his German colleague Annett Osterwold worked with Sportstar's design, editorial, production, and marketing teams on the weekly's new `look and feel.'
Dr. Garcia spoke of how the new design was a blend of better aesthetics and improved functionality. In his slideshow presentation, he emphasised the importance of catering to a generation that was "always on" - a generation that demanded new information faster than the one that preceded it.
The revamped Sportstar, Dr. Garcia said, has fonts drawn from the Fairplex and Stainless families. "Fairplex is youthful, and welcomes the reader in, so we use it on the cover, while Stainless is one of the easiest to read fonts," he said.
It also has a system of navigation on the cover to help readers "navigate their way through to what they would like to read", and colour coding according to sport to provide continuity, said Dr. Garcia.
N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, Sportstar, in his introductory speech said the decision to re-invent was the result of a careful study of changing reading habits. "In India too, mass television and fast-growing Internet use have made a tremendous difference to the way readers, especially young readers, approach or do not approach daily newspapers - and magazines," he said.
Embarking on such a radical change was an adventure, said Mr. Ram, but one that was undertaken with great care to ensure Sportstar's core values - "serious journalistic purpose, reliability, accuracy, variety, fairness, balance, and unswerving sporting spirit" - were retained.
"Our hope is that the design transformation, going hand in hand with editorial and production changes, will make your sports weekly more current, more up with the news and trends, more vibrant and varied, more informative and insightful, more fun to read," said Mr. Ram. "And it will be quicker to the market."
Mr. Ram also thanked Kapil Dev, P.T. Usha and Ramesh Krishnan for accepting the invitation and gracing the occasion.
A three-minute audiovisual presentation showcasing The Hindu group's association with sports magazine journalism dating back to Sportstar's ancestor, Sport & Pastime, was screened.
Ramesh Krishnan said: "The last 28 years, The Sportstar and I have grown together, and I share a special bond with it."
To applause, P.T. Usha said she would like to see "two full pages devoted to athletics," and reminisced about how her early successes were captured in The Sportstar.
Nirmal Shekar, Sports Editor, The Hindu , thanked the special invitees and the gathering.