Archive for the 'sports' Category

Death Knell for Print News

There is a lot of hand wringing about the decline and fall of print newspapers.  I canceled my subscription to the Minneapolis Star Tribune over a year ago because good writers and local content were harder and harder to find (not to mention the dearth of international news).  But instead of giving up on print entirely, I subscribed to the NYTimes whose $660 annual subscription is feeling a bit too luxurious in these times.  

Meanwhile, I spend way too much time reading news online.  I love to get local news from MinnPost (where most of the good writers from the Strib went anyhow), the NYTimes online edition (nicely formatted on my iPhone for reading on the train), Slate, the Economist, Time, and myriad other blogs whose RSS feeds crowd my Google home page (not to mention podcasts).  Is $660 really worth the tactile joy of opening the paper over a cup of coffee, when I’m overwhelmed with up to the minute news at my desk?

It’s no wonder people are writing the obituary of print news (to read it you’ll have to go to www.legacy.com).  Craigslist and Monster took away the want ads, advertisers are less and less interested in the demographic that still subscribes to papers, and worst of all good writing is hard to find.

As Jack Shafer points out in Slate, they did see it coming but tried to create walled gardens of content which required subscriptions.  Alas, this too has failed.  The last bastion of hope is the sports section. Mark Cuban writes in his blog that pro sports teams should come to the rescue of local papers.  Even though the Internet has infinite shelf space, the quality of local sports coverage is poor.  Maybe the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press should ask the Vikings, Twins, Wild, Timberwolves, and Gophers for a little help. 

Potential Fight Club selection: Pablo J. Boczkowski’s 2004 book, Digitizing the News: Innovation in Online Newspapers.  Also, check out this interview with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google “Eric Schmidt wishes Google could save newspapers“.

Jan 13 update: Interesting chart from eMarketer on where people get their news:

news-sources1

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Blind Sided?

The next bout is scheduled for early June… right about the time the whole world forgets about football for a few weeks. The draft will be a month and a half old, the myriad mini-camps will be winding down, and training camp and the pre-season will still be a month or two away. Even one of my favorite and devoted football columnists, Peter King of SI, turns his attention to other things every June.

Not us. Not this Fight Club. We’re going to dive in and dissect the game while the rest of the world sleeps. Our guideline? The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, by Michael Lewis.

There are really two stories in this one book. One is an examination of the evolution of the game of football from about the time of the NFL-AFL merger to present with special attention paid to the position of left tackle. The other is a personal story of a young, prospective, immensely talented and naturally gifted athlete, Michael Oher, who hopes to play the position of left tackle in the NFL someday.

The timing for reading this book is nearly perfect, IMHO. We’ll get Oher’s back-story just prior to his last season of college football and his subsequent entry into the 2009 NFL draft. And, with this year’s draft just past us, the pundits are already looking forward to next year. So, where does Michael Oher project to go, or, in other words, how many millions of dollars can he expect to have in his bank account in one year? A few projections:

Just to get an idea for what his bank account might look like in a year, the top ten picks from the 2007 NFL Draft averaged $18.7 million in guaranteed money.

Michael Oher will very likely live comfortably for the rest of his life, thanks in large part to his hard work, determination, the love and support of his adopted family and… Lawrence Taylor. To understand this reference, read the book. But, suffice it to say that this man is nearly solely responsible for the position of left tackle becoming the second-highest paid position in football after QB. For the last twenty years, teams have been adapting and investing in protection for their most prized position, and Oher will reap the benefits.

But, for how long?

The very fact that the game has evolved like it has over the last 20 years suggests that evolution will continue. And where will the LTs (left tackles… or the Lawrence Taylor’s for that matter ) of the game fall in this process? One very unique and innovative approach to the game that is starting to gain some traction suggests that left tackles, in fact offensive linemen altogether, may become nearly unnecessary!

Introducing, the A 11 Offense:

Talk about evolution of a game! Though only time will tell how it truly does evolve.

In the meantime, Oher will prep for his last unpaid season, America will enjoy a football-free June, and we will discuss and prognosticate the evolution of America’s game.


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