News That's Not Fit To Print - New York Times & LA Times Dump Sports Reporting

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

I was watching the American Century Championship celebrity tournament on Saturday. It’s a joyful, lighthearted event that features (mostly) athletes from other professional sports, with a mixture of other good to very good amateur golfers from other professions. There are actors, coaches, and singers. Bret Baier is there, and he’s not a bad golfer – although his choice of pants is terrible.

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Charles Barkley plays every year and gives all bad amateur golfers hope. Barkley still sucks, but he’s not embarrassing himself.

Every year, Aaron Rodgers makes sure that his calendar is clear so he can play in the American Century Championship, too. He never misses it because it is so much fun. Rodgers was asked about playing in New York for the Jets, and he was asked about the added “pressure” of playing a professional sport in the Big Apple. He wasn’t concerned. It used to be a pressure cooker. If you were good, sports reporters and columnists loved you. If you weren’t good, the sports guys would rip you to shreds.

Aaron Rodgers doesn’t need to worry about negative coverage coming from the New York Times sports section. There isn’t one. The Gray Lady no longer contains a sports section. The parent company of the paper acquired The Athletic, and The Athletic will do sports for the Times.

The Times announced it on July 10th, and our Jerry Wilson wrote about it.

Journalists on the sports desk will move to other roles in the newsroom and no layoffs were planned, Mr. Kahn and Ms. Drake said. A group on the business desk will cover money and power in sports, while new beats covering sports will be added to other sections. The moves are expected to be completed by the fall.

When The Times bought The Athletic, executives said the deal would help the company appeal to a broader audience.

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The New York Times has won three Pulitzers for sports reporting. Meh, assign those people to the cooking section, or how about the obituaries?

The New York Times bought The Athletic for $550 million. The Athletic still hasn’t turned a profit, even with 1.2 million subscribers.

When a printed newspaper was a thing, I would find and read the sports section first. Some of the best columnists were writing for the sports section. Jim Murray was a Pulitzer Prize-winning legend. An LA icon, like Vin Scully and Chick Hearn. I looked forward to reading his LA Times sports column in the morning. And later, I worked in that industry as a freelance editorial sports cartoonist. I did that for three decades. While I was lawyering fulling time, I was cartooning part-time. My last gig was with The Los Angeles Times. When my run of drawing sports cartoons ended in 2019, I was one of three sports cartoonists in the country drawing for major newspapers.

My run ended because I couldn’t work in an environment that had devolved into a political agitprop disguised as a sports section. My “job” was to draw an editorial cartoon on sports, and I was pretty good – but my ideas were getting rejected for silly reasons. The below cartoon is an example. The Lakers had a Swiss cheese defense in 2019; they were getting murdered because of it. I drew a cartoon, but it was rejected.

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(Credit: Jim Thompson)

We can’t publish that, Jim

Why not?

Well, most NBA players are black, and you drew a chalk outline of a dead player – you can’t imply that blacks are criminals.

Wait… what?

My cartoon was rejected because I drew a chalk outline … of a nonexistent Lakers Defense. It was a metaphor but because someone might interpret it as “racist,” no dice.

Things got more ridiculous and by 2021, I had enough.

The LA Times sports section had also started to turn into a political and social justice mouthpiece. Maybe readers got tired of it and stopped reading. In any event, the sports section that once published my cartoons weekly and used my cartoons as front-page art has now decided that it won’t publish a lot of what people who still read newspapers want to read.

The LA Times sold its printing press and now, the once proud Pulitzer Prize-winning sports section is a four-page add-on to the “California Section.”

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Meh. I know, who cares? I used to cartoon for the Times. I contributed to the paper, and I no longer subscribe or read anything it prints.

The LA Times is no longer in the city of LA; it relocated to El Segundo. Where’s the sports section? I suspect it’s living “In A Van, Down By The River.”

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