Roberts Bolts to S.I. for Big Bucks, Somewhat Bigger Profile, What's Next for Gray Lady as Sports Section Continues its Slow Fade?
Sports Illustrated nailed a big fish to apparently swim on its back page, when it recently landed New York Times sports columnist Selena Roberts to replace Rick Reilly, who gave into the temptation of TV and a $2 million annual salary to skedaddle over to ESPN.
This is a great get for S.I., which lost a lot of its luster with the departure of Reilly as well as columnist Steve Rushin.
Roberts once again gives the magazine at least one weekly must-read again.
Which leaves the Times in a bit of a lurch. Its sagging sports section is propped up by a still-strong columnist corps, including Bill Rhoden, George Vecsey and Harvey Araton. But the Times never replaced the recently retired and not-missed Dave Anderson.
As it continues to penny-pinch away, it's hardly a sure thing that the paper will replace both Anderson and Roberts.
After all, this is the same paper that all but gave up on covering hockey, except for New York Rangers home games, notwithstanding the fact that the Rangers are one of the hottest teams in the NHL and tickets are once again hard to come by.
Now the New Jersey Nets have been relegated to wire copy for road games and mostly freelancers for home games. John Eligon, who covered the team last year, is now popping up mostly as a reporter in the Metro section, in true Times tradition of sports reporters crossing over to news, i.e. Joe Sexton, Jane Gross, Robin Finn, Michael Janofsky, etc.
Not that their is anything wrong with that, but it nonetheless is troubling that local sports teams become increasingly marginalized while the Times takes the notion of it being a national newspaper a little too much to heart.
To do sports right, get your act together at home before you take it on the road.