Sports journalism carries on

Even though COVID-19 has brought sports play to a halt, sports journalism hasn’t skipped a beat.


Walter Bowne

Then there’s Russia. Russia also has a very limited free press, similar to Hungary, and basically all of the major news and media outlets are state-backed. But unlike all of the other countries I have mentioned, Russia has been surprisingly silent on how it’s handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

As I think we all know, there are no sports right now. That means broadcasters have turned to airing classic matches of yore to bring back that nostalgic feeling. 

   But what does that mean for sports journalism?

   Some outlets continue to cover current sports news. An example of this is the severe financial situation some soccer clubs, like Arsenal, are facing. For that, you can read news from the Athletic (who I will be mentioning a lot in this article; they’ve done a great job of keeping us sports fans entertained), who have journalists covering not only every major British team but the whole of the Premier League as well; the Sun’s sports section have covered it as well. Football news has been covered by every outlet under the sun: ESPN, SB Nation, and Sports Illustrated have all dissected the major free agency signings such as Tom Brady moving to Tampa Bay. 

   In fact, I’m just going to talk about SB Nation here for a bit. They’ve done a fantastic job of keeping us sports fans both informed and entertained throughout this sports suspension. 

   SB Nation is what I’d call the kings of sports journalism YouTube. They have a bunch of running series that are just fantastic. Beef History is exactly what the title says; they go into the history of notable sports beefs, such as my personal favorite between the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche. Rewinder looks back at important moments in sports history (specifically how every major player in said moment got to where they were), and my favorite just has to be Dorktown. 

   Run by co-mayors (and SB Nation writers) Jon Bois and Alex Rubenstein, the show is for sports history and analytics nerds like myself. They cover everything, from how Rickey Henderson was the best base stealer of all time, to how non-quarterback passers are much more efficient than actual quarterbacks, to Brandon Guyer, baseball’s hit by pitch king. And their current piece de resistance is a six-part series going through the entire history of the Seattle Mariners. Not much moves me, and when they covered “The Double” (Edgar Martinez’s walk-off double to win the 1995 ALDS and keep the Mariners in Seattle) in extensive length, I cried. 

   SB Nation is doing what all major sports news outlets are doing: churning out quality sports news when we need it most. 

   Then we have some outlets covering sports that are still happening. Many major soccer publications are covering the Belarusian Premier League in full detail, since that’s the only European league going on. Taiwan has resumed all sporting activities behind closed doors, and their baseball league has been covered worldwide for some… interesting methods (some teams are using robotic drummers and cutouts of fans in their stadiums to try to bring back the fan atmosphere sports are lacking). 

   And my favorite part of sports journalism right now is looking at both the past and future. Whether it be the Athletic dissecting past Premier League seasons or simulating what the NHL playoffs would be like based on the current standings or SB Nation’s excellent basketball team debating over which historic team was the best ever not to win a ring, it’s a great way to keep sports fans informed of the past. 

   Video games have also played a massive role. With not much going on right now, pro athletes have decided to help us fill the void by playing video games such as FIFA or 2K. And they’ve been getting actual coverage.

   For soccer, the FIFA Ultimate QuaranTeam cup held by Leyton Orient was a great tournament dedicated to donating to the NHS. Teams from all over the world (countries represented include England, France, Holland, Italy, Greece, the US, South Africa, and Australia) participated (Wolverhampton Wanderers won), and the organizers are doing another tournament, called the Stay In-tertoto Cup (filled with all pro athletes instead of some esports pros) to raise even more cash. In fact, the MLS is now holding a similar tournament featuring stars like Nani and Chicharito. 

   ESPN aired the NBA 2K Players Tournament, where Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker defeated teammate DeAndre Ayton in the final. The MLB and MLBPA have gotten a player from every team to participate in the MLB Players Tournament, which has been streamed live on Twitch. Stars like Blake Snell, Joey Gallo, Rhys Hoskins, and Juan Soto are all taking part. 

   And maybe some sports will return. Dr. Anthony Fauci, everyone’s favorite coronavirus expert (and former high school basketball player) thinks that we can see live sports again soon. It just has to be with strict guidelines; teams must stay in the same area and be tested routinely. 

   Numerous publications have been on it for the possible return of leagues. ESPN has been keeping tabs on the NHL season, with games at neutral sites (I’m looking at you, Manchester, New Hampshire and Grand Forks, North Dakota). They also first broke the MLB’s plans for a “bubble” league in Arizona similar to how Taiwan has been operating their league. 

   While we don’t have much news to cover with the sports suspension, I think sports journalism has taken a great creative turn and has done a great job on keeping us updated with relevant news. We may not have live sport for the most part right now, but the sports press has done a great job of filling the void.