For a die-hard sports fan, the news that the Washington Times was doing away with its’ ENTIRE sports section was a shock. I have family in DC and have probably read the Times once or twice. I’m sure I’ve pulled up a Washington Times article online when searching for the latest on the Gilbert Arenas debacle, or maybe even when I got curious about the Washington Nationals’ record last August (editor’s note: that never actually happened). Regardless, a major newspaper in the nation’s 9th-largest city laying off every beat reporter, every columnist, every editor in its’ sports department was quite possibly the largest development in media since spell check was invented.
Now, we’re all busy people. We have filled our lives with work, family, blogging, reading, UFC, Conan and/or shopping. So, if you’re anything like me, you read about the demise of the Washington Times sports section, your mouth fell open, you retweeted it, and then you moved on to the next thing. I don’t blame you at all, but I had to bring it up one more time… because we have an epidemic on our hands.
Ok, maybe it isn’t actually an epidemic. But I can just about guarantee you that TWT won’t be the first major newspaper to do-away with its’ sports section. I think Bob Dylan said it best: Times, they are a-changin’. I’m not lamenting that fact, I just think this is a great opportunity to see the future before it happens.
Think about what a world without traditional sports news looks like:
- That two and a half minutes in your local news broadcast, that used to be sports (and which has been slowly shrinking over the years), gets re-appropriated to weather/traffic/muggings.
- The empty suites at your hometown stadium become part of the press box to accommodate the 250+ blogger/fans that cover each game.
- You have to bookmark 10+ sites to make sure you really know what happened on the team plane, because there were no actual reporters/bloggers there, and no one has been able to get the story from more than one player to corroborate it.
- You save roughly $300 a year since you can now cancel that pesky newspaper subscription, millions of trees are saved, global warming ceases to exist, and 2012 becomes just another year, instead of ‘the end of the world.
Ok, to be serious, it just hit me this week what a major development this is. It’s easy to dismiss it now, because I have ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and countless team forums/official web sites/fan pages to give me the news that I want at the touch of the ‘Search Now’ button. Plus, I have Twitter, which is like a sieve that helps me catch those stories that I would otherwise have missed.
In closing, I think the shuttering of the Washington Times sports section was like the lighting of the Olympic torch. There is still a journey to take: a journey that will consist of other major papers taking the same route. Some day, our kids (or grandkids) will have to ask us what ‘sports section’ means. Maybe Wikipedia will even have an entry for it. So let’s take a moment to remember the sports section fondly… the newsprint on our fingers (and eventually on our clothes), the asterisk next to the late game that didn’t finish before the paper went to print, the endlessly optimistic or pessimistic view of the local teams’ beat writer, depending on their personality. If you’re feeling as nostalgic as I am, go out and buy your local paper and read the sports section one more time, for old times sake. And if you’re a Washington Times subscriber, hmmm… I guess there’s always USA Today!