I’ve never been as critical of The Athletic as others have been. I suppose I understood their goal, or professed goal, of developing an online sports section since I was one of the few people of my generation or those who followed, who still grew up reading sports sections.
I grew up reading the Chicago Tribune’s Bob Verdi and Bernie Lincicome (pre-crank) and the Chicago Sun-Times’ Steve Rosenbloom. No, I didn’t have a large number of pals. I believe something about what the Athletic was trying to do reminded me of something from my youth.
It’s difficult to say whether stripping newspapers of talent contributed to downsizing, closures, or other major changes in those publications because there are undoubtedly people who buy newspapers for the sports sections.
But, on the other hand, The Athletic had a true sports section for everyone, something that a lot of newspapers had ceased providing a long time ago. It gave some talented people work so they could keep doing what they love, and full transparency, it gave a lot of my friends jobs. They didn’t limit their writers or their scope, which could have been part of the problem.
The Athletic was purchased by The New York Times yesterday, and it’s unclear what this means in the long run. It’s difficult to believe the shape won’t alter anytime soon, and the usage of the phrase “at this time” in the founders’ letter yesterday is ominous. Everyone is saying the correct thing right now, as it always is at the start. They also appear to be doing it with fake smiles. Or, to put it another way, as my friend Sean put it:
Despite the fact that The Athletic received a lot of flak for what seemed like a Ponzi scheme, it was the venue where Katie Strang broke a lot of key stories. It was there that Meg Linehan blew the lid off the nonsense that was going on in the NWSL this summer.
It was a time when authors were paid to do what they loved, which isn’t something that happens very often these days. Perhaps most of us didn’t require 17 observations from a February hockey game. But there were those that needed it, and The Athletic was there to help. It rarely, if ever, employed slideshows, clickbait, or polls, which is a rarity these days.
The Athletic aimed to distinguish itself from newspapers, perhaps even to destroy them, by robbing them of the sports sections that readers desired, and is currently owned by The New York Times. I believe we all become what we despise. The Athletic, like many other newspapers, overreached, overpromised, and is now at the mercy of a more well-funded entity.
It’s difficult to remove the feeling that The Athletic was always intended to be used as a vehicle for a couple of individuals to cash out for millions of dollars, with those who lose their jobs as collateral damage. The Athletic has been looking for a buyer for a long time, and the $550 million price tag seems to be a bargain compared to what they were supposed to be looking for. But I suppose I’d be yelling at the rain if I continued to decry this situation.
From Ken Rosenthal to Hub Arkush to this, it’s been a week of viewing the state of sports journalism. We’re all still scraping and clawing.
These are in need of a name
Let’s get down to business with some of the most popular video games. The ‘Hawks’ Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat scored one of the more remarkable goals in the NHL this season, but it wasn’t enough to stop the ‘Hawks from falling 6-4 to the Arizona Coyotes’ remedial class.
Because Strome had to react to the ball rebounding off the boards and under pressure, and reposition his hands on his stick (phrasing! ), this is better than Trevor Zegras’ alley-oop from behind the net. And DeBrincat has to bury it on a half-volley, which is incredibly incredible given the range of how a puck may bounce off the surface.
This isn’t out of character for DeBrincat, one of the league’s top scorers but is largely unknown since he has never been in a game that has meant anything to the ‘Hawks, given their recent ineptness. Maybe one day he’ll be able to do stuff like this for a team that matters.