Currently literary editor of left-wing magazine the New Statesman, Cowley replaces Matt Tench, who launched OSM in May 2000. Tench quit to become deputy sports editor of The Sunday Times six weeks ago (PRWeek, 21 March).
This month's OSM, which devotes much of its editorial to the subject of homosexuality in sport, is typical of the magazine's approach to its subject, using lifestyle pieces and quirky features rather than statistics-based reports.
Cowley said this mix would remain under his editorship: 'I won't dismantle it, just tweak things a bit. I want to keep the quirkiness, humour and irreverence. I am interested in the drama of sport in every facet, its stories and personalities, in those who tried and weren't successful, as well as those who were successful.'
But he will bring more of what he called the 'American model' of sports writing to OSM, citing the example of US novelist and writer Norman Mailer.
'I am much more interested in the American tradition, where it is a kind of literary art. I'm interested in excellent writing about sport, first and foremost.'
Cowley has been at the New Statesman for five years. He has also been contributing editor of Prospect and European sports correspondent for airline magazine Scanorama.
He was previously a feature writer for The Times and a former news editor of trade title The Bookseller. He has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph Magazine and Granta.
The new editor's experience of novelists and historians is in stark contrast to that of his deputy Gordon Thomson, who joined the title this year from lads mag Maxim (PRWeek, 6 December 2002).
He was at the Dennis Publishing title for three years, prior to which he was assistant producer for Sky Sports News and a contributing editor to Goal magazine.