ALABAMA - First reported by Front Office Sports, The Arena Group is reportedly laying off most of its Sports Illustrated staff after Authentic, the licensing group that purchased the magazine five years ago, terminated its agreement to stop any print and digital publications of the iconic sports magazine.

The Sports Illustrated guild responded to the news with a statement on X (formerly known as Twitter), saying that they will continue to fight for the preservation of the storied publication that has been the standard in sports journalism over several decades.

According to different reports, Sports Illustrated staffers were notified via email that the license under which Arena Group operated the SI brand had been officially revoked by Authentic Brands Group (ABG). The ongoing battle between ABG and Arena finally culminated with this wave of layoffs on Jan. 19.

ABG purchased the magazine in 2019 and sold its publishing rights to Arena Group. They recently missed a payment for those rights and prompted ABG's response to putting the magazine's future in jeopardy. When ABG bought Sports Illustrated from its previous owner, Meredith Corporation, more than 30 percent of the staff was laid off.

LeBron James
"The Chosen One" was one of Sports Illustrated's most famous covers. Grant Wahl followed a young LeBron James as he was preparing for the NBA as a high school junior. Sports Illustrated

According from Front Office Sports, Sports Illustrated still has around 80 employees in its bargaining unit, with the rest of the staffers having been notified about their termination between Jan. 18 and Jan. 19. The information gathered by FOS also revealed that "some people will work through the end of a 90-day notice period."

After more than 3,000 publications across six decades, the below Sports Illustrated cover was voted as the best in the history of the magazine. It remains one of the rare SI covers without any headlines or text. In an interview with Richard Deitsch in 2008, photographer Heinz Kluetmeier said "it didn't need it. Everyone in America knew what happened."

Ice Hockey
"Miracle on Ice," from March 3, 1980, depicting one of the greatest moments in American sports history as the U.S. men's hockey team defeated the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics. Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated

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