MASSIVE MAKEOVER

Kapil Dev addresses the gathering at the relaunch.-V. GANESAN

The function to mark the occasion had to match the massive change. It had to be massive, and having three legends, KAPIL DEV, RAMESH KRISHNAN and P. T. USHA was good enough, writes NANDITA SRIDHAR

When Virender Sehwag stroked, smashed and spanked his way to a double hundred in Lahore, he would have been unaware, that his routine moment of fist-pumping celebration would be frozen, and would symbolise one of the most significant metamorphoses in the history of sports journalism. The new and revamped Sportstar, having dropped the definite article `The' from its name and the magazine format, had `The dasher' screaming out of hoardings, newspapers and news-stands. Bold, colourful, exciting, a la Sehwag himself, Sportstar, in its tabloid format, looks like luring the young, but keeping its allure intact, for those already hooked.

The function to mark the occasion had to match the massive change. It had to be massive, and having three legends of Indian sport, Kapil Dev, P. T. Usha and Ramesh Krishnan taking centre-stage was good enough to make sure that anybody who was a somebody would be standing under the lights of the Ball Room, at the Taj Coromandel, Chennai, on January 25.

"Who can forget the sheer joi de vivre that Kapil Dev brought to Indian and international cricket," said N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, Sportstar, on the legend. Kapil's speech was a perfect straight-drive from the heart. It was laced with humour and had the audience in splits, especially his comments on the disparity between his knowledge of The Sportstar articles and his study books (He knew a lot more about sixes, fours and the records, than mathematics, physics and chemistry.)

Ramesh Krishnan, who had penned instructional columns for The Sportstar, added that he really enjoyed writing, which was therapeutic, and that he would continue doing the same, whether it was in The Sportstar or Sportstar. He also added that the transition between the two looked like being a seamless one.

Ramesh Krishnan congratulates Kapil, who released the first copies of Sportstar.-S.R. RAGHUNATHAN

P. T. Usha's speech was strikingly similar to her customary on-field dashes. Short and sweet. She spoke with gratitude towards The Sportstar for acknowledging her first achievement, which was a gold at the University level, and added that all the invaluable criticisms that the magazine provided forged her path towards success.

"People," observed John Miller, a leading American newspaper designer, "are inundated from so many different directions they don't have the time to make sense of it all. They flip, they scan and they surf." "Editorial, design and marketing responses have naturally varied across the world," said Ram, during the function.

Ramanathan Krishnan has a close look at the revamped Sportstar cover.-S.R. RAGHUNATHAN

These words hold true in today's here today, gone tomorrow and always-in generation. A lot of work and planning is required to navigate the eyes, especially the youth's eyes towards a magazine, and make sure that it remains in that direction for a significant portion of time. "More than 80% of people use more than one media simultaneously," said internationally renowned designer Mario Garcia.

"WE HAVE LOOKED to provide something for everyone. There are colourful pictures, some highlighted text, and the more traditional readers can read the entire story," he added. Citing the example of Starbucks, a brand of coffee, he explained how the company added a lot of delicious accessories like cinnamon, foam and cream to the coffee, and gave each of them exciting and salivating names, which worked wonderfully well for marketing and selling something as simple as coffee. The same goes for marketing a sports magazine. It has to be exciting and appealing. The 500 plus gathering who were privileged enough to catch a glimpse of Sportstar after Kapil handed over the first copies to Usha and Ramesh, were floored with the colours, pictures, fonts and the quality of the paper. "It looks awesome," said one member of the crowd, with a special eye for Dhoni. The swarm of former, current and future sportspersons and sports journalists was an apt reflection of what Sportstar stands for, ushering in a new future without compromising on traditions and the past.

Besides the gala and the glitterati, the occasion was another feather in The Hindu's sporting history. Sport and The Hindu are not new acquaintances. Sport & Pastime, the brain-child of G. Kasturi, was a magazine that was launched in 1947. It proved to be a perfect turf for promoting sport and sports people, and encouraged various games. The first sport that came under the sponsorship of The Hindu was hockey, in 1951, when cricket mania was barely even a sapling. The Rangaswami Cup, which was the christening of the hockey Nationals was named after former Editor, S. Rangaswami.

Renowned newspaper designer Mario Garcia with his colleague Annett Osterwold.-V. GANESAN

Once there was a whiff of the impending cricket-mania, the Sport & Pastime Trophy was initiated in 1950-51, in a limited overs format. It was later re-named The Hindu Trophy. The Hindu is also the media partner for the Chennai Open ATP tennis tournament. Sport has been a significant part of The Hindu, and such initiatives are further proof of the same.

Sportstar, which has taken months to conceive, nurture and finally release is all set for its brief stay in the stands before zooming away to various sport-loving households. Sport is something that frequently manages to touch myriad human emotions, sometimes quicker than expected. Agony, joy, hope, despair, exhilaration, dejection, anger or patience, Sportstar will be on your side, capturing and providing its very essence and spirit.

LEGENDS SPEAK ON SPORTSTAR

Kapil Dev: This is something every sportsperson treasured in the past, and continues to treasure. There is a lot of history in this. The change is good, but we must always be in touch with the tradition.

P. T. Usha: India never had a sporting culture in the past. It took a lot of courage to start a sports magazine then, and full credit to Sportstar for continuing with it, and for taking it further. I have collected every issue of Sportstar, right from the first.

Ramesh Krishnan: I was already hooked to the magazine even in the earlier format, and will continue to read it. Even my children are hooked. But it will definitely attract the youngsters.