Sports Illustrated Fires All Of Staff

( – In a startling development, a significant number of staff members at Sports Illustrated have received notices of impending layoffs, casting a shadow over the future of the iconic sports publication that has long been regarded as the gold standard in sports journalism for nearly seven decades.

The unsettling news was delivered via email from The Arena Group, the entity responsible for operating Sports Illustrated and its affiliated properties. The email revealed that Authentic Brands Group, the licensing authority, had decided to revoke the marketing license, thereby prompting the necessity for staff layoffs.

The email explicitly stated, “As a result of this license revocation, we will be laying off staff that work on the SI brand.” The impact of these layoffs is anticipated to affect a significant number, if not all, of the NewsGuild workers who are represented by the Sports Illustrated employee union.

Mitch Goldich, the NFL editor and unit chair, conveyed the union’s commitment to fight for the publication’s storied legacy and the fair treatment of its workers. Goldich stated, “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.”

The union’s official statement also urged Authentic Brands Group to take steps to “ensure the continued publication of SI and allow it to serve our audience in the way it has for nearly 70 years.”

The troubles for Sports Illustrated under The Arena Group’s stewardship have been evident since its acquisition of publishing rights from Authentic Brands Group in 2019, spanning at least a 10-year agreement. The situation escalated in December when chief executive officer Ross Levinsohn was terminated amid public backlash over the magazine’s alleged use of AI-generated stories.

Addressing the recent developments, Pat Forde, who covers college sports, the Olympics, and horse racing for Sports Illustrated, clarified on social media that not the entire staff, but a significant number, had received termination notices. Forde conveyed the gravity of the situation, stating, “The entire staff was not laid off. There still is a website and a magazine. That said: Ugly, brutal day with many layoffs.”

In response to inquiries, Authentic Brands Group confirmed the termination of The Arena Group’s license to serve as the publisher of Sports Illustrated. The termination was attributed to the failure to pay the quarterly license fee, despite prior notice and an opportunity to address the breach.

However, amidst the uncertainty and layoffs, Authentic Brands Group expressed its commitment to ensuring the continuity of the Sports Illustrated brand. In a statement, the group declared, “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.”

Despite the challenging circumstances, Authentic Brands Group remains confident that the Sports Illustrated brand will evolve and grow, serving sports news readers, fans, and consumers. The group emphasized its dedication to preserving the brand’s legacy and ensuring the traditional ad-supported Sports Illustrated media pillar receives top-notch stewardship.

This recent setback adds to the challenging journey of the iconic sports brand over the past six years. After being acquired by Meredith Publishing in 2018 as part of the Time Inc. purchase, Sports Illustrated faced further transitions when Meredith sold its intellectual property to Authentic Brands Group for $110 million less than a year later. Authentic Brands Group, known for owning the intellectual property of various brands and icons, including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, and Reebok, now holds the responsibility of steering Sports Illustrated through these turbulent times.