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Sports Illustrated committed suicide

The great magazine took the LGBTQ path to corporate doom

Trans model Kim Petras poses at a Sports Illustrated event in New York on May 18, 2023. Associated Press/Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision

<em>Sports Illustrated</em> committed suicide
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In the past four years, Sports Illustrated has made some bad choices.

The magazine, known for its annual exploitative “swimsuit edition,” featured two transgender models on the cover recently. Straight men across the country rapidly unsubscribed.

It was a foolish move for a struggling company, and Sports Illustrated lost nearly 500,000 readers between 2007 and 2017, when they fought to adapt to an evolving digital landscape, losing prime revenue from print subscribers and advertisers.

In 2019, a new publisher purchased the magazine, hoping to save the beloved brand. With fresh eyes and vision, revenue improved, but marketing decisions soon grounded hope for an SI revival.

With an audience that is overwhelmingly male (about 70 percent of total readers), putting trans models on the cover did little more than heighten SI’s corporate bona fides. Great for “inclusion” awards, bad for sales, just as we’ve seen with Bud Light, Nike, and others.

Five years later, nearly all SI staff have been cut amid rising debt and tanking subscription sales. 

Corporate woke-ism is a one-way path to revenue loss. The new publisher could have zeroed in on what SI’s target audience wanted. Certainly, trans models weren’t it. The LGBTQ lobby is loud, but in the end, smaller than the majority of the American public. 

We see evidence of this in other places, like book sales, where books warning against LGBTQ propaganda are topping the charts. The Queering of the American Child: How a New School Religious Cult Poisons the Minds and Bodies of Normal Kids is currently #1 in gay studies. 

And remember, only .5 percent of the U.S. adult population identifies as transgender. Yet, corporate marketing bodies create campaigns like it’s a primary audience. Rational decisions have flatlined in favor of appeasing the rainbow coalition. 

Last year, brands like Lego, the North Face, and Miller Lite all faced boycotts and backlash for promoting Pride Month, which has become almost exclusively focused on the transgender agenda. 

No matter how adamantly the progressive media push the LGBTQ narrative, the general public pushes back harder.

So Sports Illustrated is certainly not alone in their bad choices, but they’ve had other things go awry as well. Last year, the magazine came under fire for AI-generated articles, and it recently featured an obese cover model as well. I’m all for body positivity, but when you bulldoze your audience with a virtue-signaling agenda it didn’t ask for, this is the result. 

No matter how adamantly the progressive media push the LGBTQ narrative, the general public pushes back harder. Why else have we seen groups like Moms for Liberty (which combats pornographic books in public schools) grow exponentially in such a short amount of time? Why else would Target have lost a massive amount of sales during Pride Month when they featured transgender swimwear and Pride onesies? Why else would Disney lose $387million in revenue in the fourth quarter alone last year?

Is raising your ESG score really worth the economic devastation? A higher ESG score may mean attracting more billionaires, but if you can’t sell the product, you’re done for. 

Some companies are starting to get it. Starbucks faced backlash for lack of Pride propaganda last year but didn’t see a dip in sales because of it. Chick-Fil-A has long faced criticism for its corporate views on traditional marriage, but they continue to grow in popularity (highest sales ever in 2022). Urban Outfitters (whose founder reportedly donated to Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign) doesn’t participate in Pride Month and its sales went up last year. Same with Cracker Barrel, which has seen a consistent increase in revenue year after year. 

In the future, historians will study how prominent brands sacrificed effective marketing and sound economic principles for the sake of “good PR” on “inclusivity” initiatives. People are getting sick of the lies perpetuating this issue, and they’re showing it with their purchasing decisions. 

Sports Illustrated has published some of the best sports journalism of all time. That kind of writing and reporting is an art, but in modern culture, beauty, truth, and logic are cast aside in the fruitless climb toward relevance. 

Ericka Andersen

Ericka Andersen is a freelance writer and mother of two living in Indianapolis. She is the author of Leaving Cloud 9 and Reason to Return: Why Women Need the Church & the Church Needs Women. Ericka hosts the Worth Your Time podcast. She has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Christianity Today, USA Today, and more.

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