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Family Valued

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We explored the idea in this space last week, but it bears repeating as the 2016 game clock ticks down: There's a very solid case that this was the best sports year in history. Maybe you agree. (Hello, Cubs Nation.) Maybe you don't. (We see you, Browns fans.) In either case, the debate is a reminder of why this is such a beautiful season. Mad clicking on Amazon Prime aside, the holidays are an opportunity to slow down, to reflect, to assess the year just finished and to look ahead to the new one. Also, there are some fantastic NBA matchups on Christmas weekend.

Also fantastic, and worth a moment of reflection: you, the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED reader. Which brings up another point of discussion: Who exactly are you? Once, when SI meant a magazine and a magazine only, reader was the perfect descriptor. But now you're an increasingly diverse crowd.

Yes, we reach many of you through the written word in print and online. But you're also viewers, if you came to SI this year through a news-breaking SI Wire video, or our Sportsperson of the Year event live stream, or our digital documentary on Ricky Williams's plans for the sports-cannabis industrial complex. You're followers, if you came to us through @SInow or the stellar SI Instagram feed, which grew its audience by 40% this year. You're commenters, if you sent us a story idea or debated Richard Deitsch on Twitter or asked a question during our Facebook Live with Michael Phelps. Friends. Listeners. Likers. The list goes on.

The point: Our audience is changing, and so are we. If 2016 was the best sports year ever, then by definition it was the best ever for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED—we got to tell those awesome stories and produce the first draft of history in real time. But this was also a landmark year for reasons that hit closer to home. Our digital flagship, SI.com, got a makeover, and is now state of the art in design and performance. We began a digital partnership with Fox Sports that makes our content more widely available; in the months and years ahead SI and Fox will revolutionize what a sports media outlet can be. And this month's Sportsperson celebration was our biggest and brightest ever. Look at that photo—how's that for a holiday card?

In other words, we're continuing to build and refine the myriad platforms that allow us to connect with you, the modern sports fan, where you want to be. But one thing hasn't changed: our appreciation for all of our readers, viewers, friends and followers. Let's go with family as the new shorthand. Thanks for being part of ours, for sticking by us as the sports and media landscapes evolve. In print or on a screen, SI's commitment, in 2017 and beyond, will be the same as it ever was: to deliver our best—no, the industry's best—to the SI family every day. The trust, commitment and loyalty you've shown us deserves nothing less.

So thank you, happy holidays and best wishes for a new year even better than the current one. Browns fans, we can (almost) guarantee that it will be.