By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The New York Times recently announced that it was disbanding its sports department.
The publication’s future sports coverage, it announced, will be provided by its website, The Athletic, for both digital and print.
The New York Times’ sports department currently .consisted of more than 35 reporters and editors and was long considered one of the greatest sports departments in American journalism, with multiple Pulitzer Prize winning writers in its ranks.
As part of the announcement, the New York Times editors offered (by email to their newsroom):
“We plan to focus on even more directly on distinctive, high-impact news and enterprise journalism about how sports intersect with money, power, culture, politics and society at large. At the same time, we will scale back the newsroom’s coverage of games, players, teams and leagues.”
It was that last sentence that seemed so perplexing to myself — and many other sports journalists.
And before I go further, I want to make it clear that I understand the shifting landscape that newspapers continue to try to navigate. I have spent 23 years in the industry and have watched the transformations.
Many difficult decisions have been made by publications across the country. More difficult decisions, seemingly, always lurk on the horizon for newspapers.
However, I have spent thouasands of hours of my life at games, with players, amongst teams and around leagues.
It is where I learned how to do my job.
It is where I met so many of you.
It is where I have sparked relationships that turned into friendships.
It is where I learned about great feature stories that I could pursue.
It is where I was trusted to write those features because of the relationships that I had formed.
Personally, I can’t imagine my job without all of those interactions.
Professionally, I can’t imagine how many stories I would have missed the opportunity to tell if I had not been around the people that made them possible.
In the last sentence of the quoted NYT email, it explains that those same opportunities that have meant everything to me are exactly what they intend to pull back from its coverage.
Maybe it won’t be exactly what it sounds like.
I sure hope that is the case.
In so many ways, my career has been supported by the amazing friendships that I have been able to create spending time with communities, families, coaches, players and teachers.
To try to imagine my work without any of that would be heartbreaking.
Fortunately, though, my heart remains full and it is because of all of you.