Every child, wherever he or she may be, wants to play. It could be anything as long as the child gets time to express itself and do what he or she loves the most. Most parents are quite happy to allow their children an hour or so of recreation or fun before they ask them to come back home and bury their heads in studies.

Before the advent of television, a way the child could stay in touch with games and follow the happenings was through the sports pages of a newspaper. Then there was Sport & Pastime, a sports magazine from the publishers of The Hindu, which used to be eagerly awaited by readers every week.

Not only would Sport & Pastime carry news of sports played all over the world, it would also have pictures of the stars of sport. Those would be cut and stuck in a scrapbook. If it was a big full-page picture then it would be stuck on the wall facing the bed so when the child woke up, the first sight of the day would be of its favourite player.

These were, of course, the days of black and white. Colour pictures were to come much later and Sport & Pastime was the first to come out with those too. That was even more exciting and they started to have a centrespread which made the photo even bigger. Shortly, another English sports magazine Sportsweek came out and sports lovers were doubly delighted as they could get more articles to read about their favourites.

Today, with the explosion of television and digital space, where live action can be seen 24 hours a day, a sports magazine may not be the go-to option for everybody. But those hardcore sport lovers who want balanced opinions and views will always opt for it, away from the noise and hard sell of TV.

The Sportstar replaced Sport & Pastime while Sportsweek stumbled and then went off the shelves. The content in Sportstar is varied as it always has been and all sports are covered — even those which not many Indians would be too familiar with. The magazine completes 40 years and is a tribute to The Hindu for its continued and sustained support of sports. The coverage of events is truly world class with contributions from writers from all corners of the globe.

The specials that are brought out for the world events are always worth storing away to be read again before the next big event in that sport. The writers bring in their own perspective, which may not always be in line with the common narrative, but it does make for interesting discussion and debate. The magazine has evolved with the times, too, and it is great to see more women’s sport being covered and women being featured on the cover and poster. No wonder the women readers have increased, too.

Like everybody, I have my favourite writers, too, and the late Nirmal Shekar who wrote extensively on tennis was one of them. His columns were delightfully incisive and informative. In recent times, Sunil Chhetri is terrific as he brings all his insights into the world’s favourite sport, football. His succinct description of the sport’s two superstars, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, in one of his articles was a treat to read. In fact, every page in Sportstar is a must read for sports lovers as it not only informs, but also increases one’s knowledge of the sport.

Congratulations Sportstar and onwards to a half-century.