The Demise of Sports Illustrated

Last week, news broke that Sports Illustrated is on life support. The publication failed to pay its licensing fees to the magazine’s parent company and now all of SI’s journalists are in jeopardy of being laid off. Unless readers want a magazine written entirely by AI, losing all of your journalists would seem like a death blow.

With the somber developments, I looked back at my own history with Sports Illustrated. I grew up in a time when Sports Illustrated advertised its product on television non-stop. Does anyone remember those commercials that encouraged you to subscribe in exchange for a gift? I will never forget the SI duffel bag my dad received for taking the plunge.

In high school, one of my English teachers, Glenn Williams, utilized the distinctive style of an infamous SI writer to encourage us to be more creative. Mr. Williams had us read Rick Reilly’s “Life of Reilly” column to spice up our own writing. We would read his work, analyze it, and then try to incorporate his techniques into our own writing.

Then, when I made it on my own, I subscribed to Sports Illustrated for many years. There was always something nice about opening my mailbox to find a glossy, crisp issue of SI. The Leading Off photography was always mesmerizing and first class. As an analytics person, I always appreciated the Go Figure side bar and it was always a thrill when a local product made the Faces in the Crowd section.

An X post I made all the way back in 2009. I enjoyed Sports Illustrated for many years.

But once I got past the regular departments, I would get lost in the long cover stories and other features. It truly was sports journalism at its best and as a single dude in his 20s, I was there for it. It is fascinating how things have changed.

When I look back at my past X posts that mentioned Sports Illustrated, they run the gamut from commentary on the cover to excitement for the swimsuit issue to actual story reaction. I loved reading through those pages and the enthusiasm was great enough to translate into my social media posts.

When I look back on it, my excitement for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue was pretty immature. This post was from 2012.

However, like many things, when I started a family my appetite and capacity for Sports Illustrated dwindled. I didn’t have time to devote to a weekly issue and we didn’t need the physical magazines taking up precious space either. I also think SI lost its way in recent years as well.

Despite the fact that Sports Illustrated pretty much has a non-existent place in my life today, I am still saddened to hear of its possible demise. I feel mostly for the journalists themselves but I also feel saddened that a publication that helped millions of people get excited about sports is on the way out. Don’t Blink.

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