Saturday, May 25, 2024

Sports Illustrated Layoffs Come As No Suprise After Decade Of Woke Advocacy

The parent company of Sports Illustrated announced to staffers this week to prepare for layoffs.

A legacy magazine having financial concerns in the era of Internet media and during a recession comes as no surprise — Time Inc. put the SI brand up for sale in 2018 for a reason. But adding fuel to the flames was SI’s insistance on promoting progressive politics. No, not the typical leftward-slant we expect from heavily pressured national brands (and their shareholders) in the activist crosshairs. And, no, not the casual bias we might see from anywhere else in journalism. We’re talking a full-tilt, unapologetic embrace of the radical Left, which alienated a base of typically center-right sports afficiandos (not to mention those who still subscribe to pulp-based magazines).

The “go woke, go broke” scenario was accurately predicted by Fox News’s Jimmy Falla via Fox News, who decried its embrace of BLM activism of professional teams, including SI’s naming “The Activist Athlete” as Sportsperson of the Year in 2020. “Sports Illustrated will undoubtedly score points with the Social Justice crowd for their salute to activism, but if leagues keep running this play it may ultimately lead to another historic sports moment called ‘The Chapter 11,’” Falla rightly prognosticated.

Let’s take a quick look at some of SI’s other forays into leftward politics over the past decade-and-a-half:

Climate section. Yes, SI has a Climate section — this is candy to philanthropic foundations that dole out money for such “civic journalism” projects. From a screed in 2007 about South Florida flooding to concerns that F1 races are contributing to greenhouse gasses, not to mention its hard-hitting piece about “phony environmentalism” put forth by image-conscious sports organizations (and nothing about sports teams that are being pressured by radical activists to pretend like they care), you’d think Al Gore joined the editorial board. Read the section before it disappears like so much alleged sea ice.

Mocking the Faithful. Shortly after the time the Democratic Party was catching flack for booing God at convention and “Tebowing” became a household word, SI editors must have thought it fashionable to join in on the left wing’s pummeling of people of faith. A smarmy and poorly reported article on religion in football was the last straw for PJ Media writer Andrew Klavan. He called SI’s suppport for the New York Times’s Mark Oppenheimer‘s notorious hit job on Christian football players an attack on religion and journalism alike, calling readers to cancel online and print subscriptions.

Support for kneeling. Following the Colin Kaepernick flare up, SI wrote a liberalsplaining piece dismissing the trend of kneeling for the National Anthem, as opposed to standing and saluting the flag, as “a way to protest police brutality and racial inequality in the United States… without disrespecting the armed forces or the flag.” Enough said there.

The Body Shaming Issue. First there was the “burkini” in 2019. In 2020, SI showcased the “well-rounded woman” in its famed Swimsuit Edition. And, one nosy parents aren’t likely to find under mattresses any time soon, in 2023, the magazine put a transgender model on the cover. Jordan Peterson famously incurred organized wrath from the radical Left when he dared to criticize SI’s editorial decisionmaking skills.

BotGate. While on a self-righteous crusade to assure that collegiate athletes are paid a living wage and tracking schools which do not comply with Lefty activist demands, SI was busted using artificial intelligence to generate content and create fake author profiles rather than hiring more writers. The resultant scandal was branded “BotGate.”

As WaPo columnist Josh Tyrangiel pointed out, SI is a “zombie title” and has been for awhile. “SI is down to just a few flimsy issues a year. It lurches forward mostly on online listicles and the last few people who think swimsuits are the apex of erotica.” And the worst of it all …

“Paid subscribers no longer receive a sneaker phone.”

While some old-fashioned subscriber swag would be nice, those are not the reasons why SI is fumbling. Consider that Barstool Sports is sponsoring collegiate playoff games, despite whines from campus liberals that the company has a history of disregarding just about everything they stand for. All sports readers really want is accurate coverage of games and players, plenty of candor (e.g. the enduring niche-popularity of sports talk radio and blogs that don’t pull their punches), and a little support for American values.

ESPN, you’re on notice.