« More articles in 1   |   Go Home

Another way to phrase it would be, “What happens when nobody is reading physical newspapers, and sports are no longer guaranteed a disproportionate amount of space in people’s daily reading?”

But even while physical newspapers still exist, it’s becoming too expensive for companies to fly their reporters around the country to report on their beats in person. Teams are worried this (Mark Cuban writes about it all the time), and rightfully so; lots of newspapers have already cut their first-hand sports coverage, especially for NHL teams.

In LA, the local papers almost never send their beat writers to Kings road games anymore. So the team actually hired one of the LADN’s beat reporters to cover the games for the team’s web site. That works, in some senses. But it’s still an entirely different dynamic; whereas people used to discover the Kings in the local paper, because it was always there in front of them, now they’ll need to seek the team out, and that puts the Kings on the same plane as just about any other form of local entertainment.

Yes, sites like SB Nation will help fill this void — I don’t think we’ll ever reach a point where you can’t find coverage of your local team. But it may never be the same. Sports has had an incredible setup for the past hundred plus years; relative to their size and scope, they received a hugely disproportionate share of newspapers’ space and resources. The question is, was it more of a supply or a demand issue? Did newspapers cover sports because it was easy and fun and filled lots of pages, or was there actual consumer demand for sports news? And did it at some point become a self-fulfilling cycle — i.e. did people become more interested in sports because it was in the newspaper, and therefore demanded more sports coverage?

This is an incredibly important issue, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a major topic of conversation over the next couple years, particularly in regards to the NHL and NBA. But even for MLB and the NFL, it’s something to pay attention to — there are a lot of casual fans who could drop off if the information isn’t put in front of them everyday. I’m not sure there’s really a solution either — sports leagues and teams might simply have to become like any other marketer, and, like anybody else, they’ll either execute well and continue to succeed, or fall into the abyss.

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

No Existing Comments

Add New Comment

Pittsburgh Florist