Sports Illustrated‘s stunning mass layoffs Friday, which cast doubt on the future of the 70-year-old media stalwart, have prompted waves of emotional reaction across social media.
The Arena Group told the entire staff their jobs were being eliminated after Authentic Brands Group, which licenses the SI name, suspended that license to publish due to a missed payment of about $3.75 million.
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It isn’t yet clear what the ultimate fate of SI will be, but it has been thrown into uncertainty. Sports Illustrated Union and The NewsGuild of New York issued a statement vowing to fight for the workers. “We have fought together as a union to maintain the standard of this storied publication that we love, and to make sure our workers are treated fairly for the value they bring to this company. It is a fight we will continue,” Mitch Goldich, NFL editor and unit chair at The NewsGuild of New York said.
Reaction was swift and emotional on X, formerly Twitter, where “Sports Illustrated” became the No. 1 trending topic nationally by midday Friday. Reactions ranged from bafflement at management decisions in recent years to outright eulogies for the magazine, some tagged “RIP.”
ESPN host Scott Van Pelt posted a vintage cover and a tribute. “If you are older, you knew exactly what day Sports Illustrated showed up in the mailbox,” he wrote. “Found this just last week and it took me back to a time when the team was great, they were called something different and if your team made the cover, it was the greatest thing ever. RIP SI.”
Adam Schefter, ESPN’s veteran NFL reporter, struck a similar tone. “At its peak and even for a while after, Sports Illustrated was an institution,” he wrote. “Its covers, and coverage, were legendary. So much great work was done there. And now, it’s the end. A horrible day for the employees that work there.”
Ricky Cobb, whose X account Super 70s Sports recently was announced as the basis of a TV show produced by Vice and Jimmy Kimmel’s Kimmelot, offered a “Sky Point to Sports Illustrated.” His X post continued: “I couldn’t imagine being a sports fan in my childhood without it. Damn near every 70s cover is suitable for framing because ‘less is more’ was still a thing people understood back then.”
Here is a sampling of the reactions/remembrances on X, formerly Twitter (speaking of eulogized media brands …):
A Sports Illustrated cover was, for decades, the number one starmaking vehicle in sports. It was what Carson was for a comedian or SNL was for a band. *Sports* is worse off without those things. That things got this bad this quickly is unfathomable and totally avoidable.
— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) January 19, 2024
If you are older, you knew exactly what day Sports Illustrated showed up in the mailbox. Found this just last week and it took me back to a time when the team was great, they were called something different and if your team made the cover, it was the greatest thing ever. RIP SI. pic.twitter.com/z4li784b8x
— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) January 19, 2024
Real Sports, Outside the Lines, Sports Illustrated and dozens of smaller outlets. The assumption that AI can cover a team. It’s fair to wonder what the future is for sports journalism and sports writers today.
— Jane McManus (@janesports) January 19, 2024
Horrible to hear about all the layoffs/firings that are happening today at Sports Illustrated. It was THE standard forever when it came to sports journalism.
I’ll always remember this cover…super grateful to everyone who produced it. #MIZ pic.twitter.com/dhJug8hw9w
— Chase Daniel (@ChaseDaniel) January 19, 2024
My dream job was to work at Sports Illustrated. First magazine subscription I ever had. It was the go-to publication for thoughtful, long form journalism. Huge blow to the industry and it’s unfortunate this kind of journalism just isn’t considered valuable anymore. https://t.co/7ofvyBlZ5a
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) January 19, 2024
Very sad for my Sports Illustrated friends today, and for all of us who loved everything it used to be.
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) January 19, 2024
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