It seems that the only way the formerly iconic sports publication The Sporting News can make news these days is by going out of business. Or at least “relaunching.”

After a series of sales, TSN is barely hanging on. The magazine this week announced it is switching publication of its magazine from every week to twice a month. According to an article in the New York Times the new edition of The Sporting News will feature “more color, better paper and a slew of name columnists.”

The Sporting News’ idea of a “big-name” columnist includes former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, former MLB pitcher Ron Darling, and New York Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner. Those are hardly the type of columnists that will increase circulation and web hits. Worse, they’re not even writing in every issue. The “big names” will be “semiregular” contributors. So, even if I wanted to read a Hank Steinbrenner column (which I don’t) I’d have two wait two weeks and then his column MIGHT appear in the publication. That’s hardly a model for business success.

The primary focus of The Sporting News will now be a “daily digital newsletter” called Sporting News Today. The newsletter will deliver scores and stats via e-mail to subscribers every morning. This too is a failed business model. Why would I wait until the next morning to get scores and PAY to do it when every FREE website in the country updates scores in real time? Why would I PAY to get statistics when every major sports site offers them faster and for free?

The Sporting News has also hired former editor Will Leitch. It’s an effort to attract younger, hipper online readers. Typically, TSN hired Leitch AFTER he left Deadspin instead of while he was still the biggest force in online sports blogging. It’s literally another example of too little, too late.

There was a time (before the internet, ESPN and the USA Today sports section) when hardcore sports fans got their information from The Sporting News. They were the “baseball bible.” TSN BLEW AWAY their competition in its baseball coverage. There was a feature column on every Major League team each week. TSN also invented the baseball notes column, running news about every team in its publication. They were also the first national publication to hire Peter Gammons as a baseball insider and had the biggest name columnists in the country like Dick Young and Joe Falls. They even had every box score and were the only source of major and minor league stats.

In point of disclosure I’ve actually done some work for The Sporting News and their radio network. I was  also a HUGE fan of the publication while growing up in the 70’s. I remember the magazine used to offer “lifetime subscriptions” for $60. Unfortunately, that was an insurmountable number of lawns to mow as a kid growing up in the early 70’s. I never quite made it to the 60 bucks.  Back then “lifetime” access to the information provided by The Sporting News seemed like a dream to a kid growing up in the 70’s.

The Sporting News used to matter. Unfortunately that day is long gone.

Tags: , ,


  1. Shawn Says:

    Actually there are a few points that are incorrect here.

    The Daily in NOT a pay service. It’s free. So is the website. Only the magazine is pay.

    Secondly, Leitch was hired months ago. He just happened to announce his move to New York magazine before the SN announcement.

    Thirdly, the NYT chose those three writers to showcase, but there are a lot more and the list is ever growing and ever changing. You can see the full release and list of writers here:

    Also, The Sporting Blog has quickly become one of the most respected sports blogs on the web, consistently in BallHype’s Top 10.

    So although I respect your right to your opinion, I have to disagree with your conclusions.

  2. Clay Vegas Says:

    It all just seems too little too late. Hiring an already busy Leitch doesn’t show me “turnaround”. I’ll give it a try but this has suck written all over it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: