Good Sport’s alphabetical experiment
The first subscription magazine we delivered in 2022 was Melbourne’s Good Sport – an experimental and subtly crazy magazine that appeals far beyond its core readership of sports fans.
That said, there are still plenty of straight-up sports stories in here, like the photo essay made by people who get up early to exercise.
Or the football team of Rohingya refugees who play in Brisbane’s suburban league.
And there are more unusual responses to sport too, like the article investigating what sport smells like.
Or the passionate, Baudrillard-inspired argument against the corporate commercialisation of sport.
So far, so straightforward. But the tricky bit is in the structure – this issue of Good Sport has dispensed with page numbers and instead uses letters to locate its stories. The contents page looks like it’s been crossed with a subway map, and each of these letters doesn’t just dictate the position of the story in the magazine, but also influences the subject matter itself.
Sometimes the stories are clearly related to their letters, so for example story L is about Labanotation, the complex and precise movement notation used by dancers.
Often the relationship is more subtle – one of my favourite pieces is story M, which shows boxers training in the gym, some of them pictured shadow boxing, while in interviews they reflect on themselves and their sport. It’s not made explicit, but with all these reflections bouncing across the pages, it seems that in this case, ‘M’ is for mirror.
You might have noticed from the pictures above that the magazine also has tabbed sections, allowing readers to jump straight into different parts of the magazine and encouraging lots of flicking backwards and forwards rather than a single linear route from front to back.
Right at the front of the magazine, just before the contents page, Good Sport’s editors discuss the process of making this issue, and in that conversation they talk about the alphabetical structure providing, “a new framework”, that allowed for, “both intention and spontaneity”, constructed, “around a central theme of communication”. I think that’s what makes this magazine so intriguing; its stories are about sport, but they’re also about communities and individuals coming together in different ways, the odd alphabetical order providing a novel way of flicking through the magazine, and also directly informing the stories that are told.
Want to see more like this for yourself? Sign up to our independent magazine club and we’ll deliver a different one to your door every month.