Sunday, October 30, 2005

N.Y. Times Lets Sports Section Slip Into Abyss

Already-Limited Hockey Coverage Totally Falls Off The Radar; Are The Nets Next?
No doubt, the budget chieftains at The New York Times are serious in their mission. Just ask the sports department, where the bylines are fewer and farther between.
We've already written about the pathetic attempts at hockey coverage this year, with coverage of the Devils and Islanders relegated to the A.P., even for home games. Now, even the Rangers were hit with that treatment.
All three teams were on the road last night, and Rangers beat writer Jason Diamos didn't make the trip for the game at Montreal. Ordinarily, the Times would have a stringer or freelancer in place. But these are not ordinary times at the Times, which is buying out lots of bodies in the newsroom.
Still, this is the Times. They'll send a critic to review the Wagner cycle in Bayerurth, have 20 foreign bureaus and parachute in squadrons of reporters when the Big Story hits. And they can't even staff a lousy hockey game?
Yeah, yeah. Hockey's become the distant number-four sport and last year's season-long lockout didn't help. The miniscule cable ratings for the local teams are almost comical. But there they are. Since 1978, the local teams have won eight Stanley Cups. That should count for something.
Hockey hater Mike Lupica once cracked there were 25,000 hockey fans in New York, and most of them were the ones at the games. Still, his employer, the Daily News, has beat writers for all three teams.
Hell, even The Journal-News -- never known for its free spending ways -- in the northern suburbs of Westchester and Rockland, cover the Rangers and Devils.
This doesn't bode well for coverage of other teams. If you're a fan of the New Jersey Nets, be afraid, be very afraid. Not of the team, which looks like it'll be fun to watch again. Just of the team's coverage, which if the bean counters have their way, may not show up regularly in the pages in these troubled Times.

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