Tuesday, March 31, 2009
What's Next for Sports?
Five big TVs with five different games playing. Three of your favorite news reporters spread around the office. One Potbelly's sandwich in front of you.
This is my dream job, and how I spent some of the best nights of my summer. Last summer, I interned for WXYZ-TV in their sports department and had the time of my life. And while most nights were spent logging game footage with five sports games on at a time, this job taught me a lot. It combined my love for journalism and my love for sports in what was any man's dream job. I was paid (with college credit) to ask questions to some of Detroit's greatest athletes. I got to walk a golf course with John Daly and Kid Rock. I was in Jim Leyland's office after Tiger games, as he took questions with his trademark stare, cigarette still smoldering in front of him. It was unbelievable, and solidified my drive to make it as a reporter.
There is just one problem: I am a trying to make it in a dying business.
Last week, Booth Newspapers announced major closings/restructuring of many papers in Michigan. The Ann Arbor News will be going to an all digital format. Even Bill Simmons is taking time to chronicle this in his podcasts, instead of profiling his Red Sox less than a week away from Opening Day Jobs are being cut, and people are forced to find other careers. One example of this is former AAN sports writer Jim Carty. Carty, part of the duo that broke the non-scandal over independent study courses for athletes at U of M, resigned from the News last year. He is now in his first year of Law School at Toledo. The guy has gone from analyzing the spread offense to analyzing divorce cases in 18 months. Scary.
Carty is one of the few willing to go the extra mile for a new career. With Michigan's unemployment rate recently hitting 12%, choices are slim and dreams are being put on hold. With Detroit sitting in my backyard, it's hard to ignore the risks that go along with struggling industries.
But, whether or not I end up as a reporter, I want to say "Thanks" to all the sports fans out there who continue to read the papers and support the sports news industry because these are the people driving the business. Whether it be the five people who actually read this blog or the five million people on ESPN.com everyday, sports journalism (and news journalism in general) continues to be a huge part of everyone's daily life. Hopefully, this industry can pull through and keep sports and news afloat through television, radio, and written news. I know there is still a need for these types of coverage. It's just a matter of finding the right medium and price.
This week, we will see the Detroit papers cut back to a circulation of three days per week. As someone who grew up with the sports section spread out under a bowl of Frosted Flakes every morning, I'll miss seeing the paper everyday. I grew up reading guys like Mitch Albom, watching Don Shane give his sports report, and listening to Terry Foster on the radio. Journalism plays a huge role in my life, and I hope it continues to do the same in your lives. With any luck, there is a light at the end of this tunnel.