Play magazine appears to be a casualty of the financial crisis which has hit the newspaper industry hard. And that is quite sad. Play is one of the magazines that the New York Times puts out 4 or so times each year, so that on any given Sunday, the New York Times comes both with its main magazine, and one of its targeted ones (e.g. Travel, Design, Style, etc.) and Play which covered Sports. The magazines are the main reason I subscribe to the Times.
I was recently reminded how way out of touch with sports I've become, while watching the superbowl. Back in college, still most of my friends followed sports, so I wound up watching as well, or at least keeping up so that I could talk about it. But for the past 8 years, I guess I've mostly been hanging out with academic types, who never talk about sports, which I'm cool with, but Play magazine was a nice way to stay somewhat in touch.
Play magazine was basically the sports magazine for over intelectualizing npr/nytimes readers. Its writers included people like David Foster Wallace and Steve Levitt who looked at how sports betting worked. Its articles dissected plays, analyzed the game theory of football play calling, and the physiology of sports.
You can see evidence of the cancellation by the articles appearing the regular magazine: the business of Roller Derby, or the use of serious statistics to analyze basketball; the article on NBA star Shane Battier by Michael Lewis was as much a lesson on conditional probability and marginal analysis as it was about basketball. So at least the articles are still being written hopefully.
Oh, and the magazine was pretty.
Great stuff. But I guess not much of a market. Ah well.