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Sports Illustrated lays off entire staff, X users say ‘Once you go woke, you go broke’

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Sports Illustrated, the iconic sports magazine that has covered the most memorable moments in sports history, faced a bleak future on Friday after its publisher announced a massive layoff of its staff.

The publisher, The Arena Group, had been under fire for using artificial intelligence to produce some of the magazine’s content. The company also failed to pay a $3.75 million quarterly fee to Authentic Brands Group, the owner of the SI brand, which was due this week.

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This prompted Authentic Brands to revoke the publishing license of The Arena Group, which had more than 100 journalists working for SI. The Arena Group said on Thursday that it would cut a “significant” number of its employees as a result.

On Friday, the unionized workers of SI received a memo that said “some employees will be terminated immediately, and paid in lieu of the 60-day applicable notice period under the [union contract].”

Employees with a last working day of today will be contacted by the People team soon. Other employees will be expected to work through the end of the notice period, and will receive additional information shortly,” the memo readA spokesman for The Arena Group said that the company was still negotiating with Authentic Brands to regain the license. He said that the company would continue to publish SI until the issue was resolved.

“We hope to be the company to take SI forward but if not, we are confident that someone will. If it is another business, we will support the transition so the legacy of Sports Illustrated doesn’t suffer.”

SI’s website had a few new stories on Friday, indicating that some of its staff were still working.

SI’s annual Swimsuit edition, which made stars out of models like Cheryl Tiegs and Tyra Banks, was already finished and would be released in the spring, according to the New York Post.

Authentic Brands Group open up on SI’s probable future

Authentic Brands, which is owned by Canadian billionaire Jamie Salter, said that SI “will continue” to exist, but did not specify who would be in charge of it. The company said that it had received interest from Vox, Essence, Penske Media and former NBA player and executive Junior Bridgeman for a licensing deal for SI.

“Authentic is here to ensure that the brand of Sports Illustrated, which includes its editorial arm, continues to thrive as it has for the past nearly 70 years,” the company said in a statement.

The union members of SI also urged Authentic to “ensure the continued publication of SI.”

“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 of the union, posted on X.

SI, which was first published in 1954, was owned by Time Inc. until 2018, when it was sold to Meredith, a publishing giant. Meredith then sold SI to Authentic for $110 million.

Sports Illustrated gained renown for its exceptional sports journalism, boasting a roster of distinguished writers such as Frank Deford, Dan Jenkins, Peter Gammons, Sally Jenkins, Leigh Montville, and Jim Murray.

Its iconic covers, which featured Michael Jordan 50 times, captured the most iconic moments in sports, such as the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 and the “The Chosen One” label for LeBron James in 2002.

What X has to say?

“Very sad for my Sports Illustrated friends today, and for all of us who loved everything it used to be,” Rachel Nichols wrote in a post on X.

Another one wrote, “ripping out the sports cards out of sports illustrated magazine and collecting them.”Sports Illustrated lays off entire staff, X users say ‘Once you go woke, you go broke’

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