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Sep 20, 2023

Missing the NY Times Sports Coverage? Did You Know It Existed?

A tearless lament for the lackadaisical

By Ed Goldman

Word this past July that the New York Times was shutting down its sports reporting desk couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. I’d also just learned that Mensa was discontinuing its annual cockfighting festival, that Rolls Royce was selling off its after-market Yugo division and George Will would no longer be a commentator at Demolition Derby’s Ladies Night.

Edgy Cartoon

Sports bar none (painting by Edgy)

What next? 

  • Will The Economist dedicate an entire issue to lemonade-stand demographics in the American southwest? 
  • Will the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” be awarded to Carrothead? 
  • Will the Nobel Peace Prize be handed to Vladimir Putin (“I’d just like to thank the little people, mainly because they’re so much easier to toss out all those windows”)?

Yes, we may live in an oxymoronic world—one in which Intellectual Property cases may not involve intellectuals but more likely who owns the rerun rights to “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”—or which rap artist was the first to claim “Lil’” as his given name. (By the way, can you think of a better oxymoron than “rap artist”?) 

Be truthful. Did you know that the New York Times even had a sports desk? I can see as how it might have had a sports desk. But I have serious doubts it also had a sports chair.

Let’s face it. The Times—which used to be known as the Gray Lady because it never printed anything in color, while the visual look of its pages resembled a charcoal tablecloth—didn’t make its name covering stories on the signing of a $30 million contract by an 18-year-old pitching ace from Rendville, Ohio (population: 28), or on a senior citizen pickleball champion tearing her ACL. You know, genuine sport stories. 

To be fair, the newspaper did have decent enough Olympics coverage— especially when compared to all of those Bob Costas tape-delayed broadcasts of the Games (“That ski jump will go down in history! Actually, by the time you see this, it already has!”). It’s funny when a newspaper can beat a TV network on timely reporting.

When I think of the Times, to which I’ve been a daily subscriber since I could say the word “subscriber” without lisping, I think of its wide-ranging political coverage (and sure, subliminal bias); its brilliant array of columnists like Maureen Dowd and, uh, Maureen Dowd; its daily crossword puzzles, which are challenging Thursday, Friday and especially Saturday, but easier than people think on Sunday—when, once you get the theme, your handwriting becomes a blur as you fill in the answers at warp speed. 

I think of the fact that the Times never runs comic strips nor editorial cartoons, has no regular TV column and has a weekly supplement called “Science Times,” from which I’ve learned a lot and which has been a garden of snarky delights for me as a writer. It also has Thursday and Sunday Style sections (now in living color); and, if I haven’t mentioned her since a prior paragraph, Maureen Dowd.

What the paper doesn’t have is the sports bar crowd. I’ve never seen its daily sports pages opened and taped to the wall above the urinal in a sports bar’s acknowledged reading room. I have yet to hear two guys in a sports pub get into a shouting match about how the Times covered a particular sport, game or athlete. 

What it does do well is comment aloofly on sports venues. Here’s what appeared in 1964: “Shea Stadium, the newest major league baseball park, opened for business yesterday with appropriate festivities and colossal traffic jams.” Oh, that’ll bring ’em in. The paper might just as well have told baseball fans, “Hey, you want a booster? Go get a shot.”

Which I think I’ll do that right now at my local sports bar, Bruised Bicep. It has seven TV monitors, tuned variously to rugby matches in Uruguay, la crosse playoffs in most of the mid-Atlantic states, soccer riots in Paris, and demolition derbies in Bob Costas’s driveway. Tape-delayed, natch.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President, Golden Pacific Bank, a Division of SoFi Bank, N.A.

photo by Phoebe Verkouw


In a splurge of love and excitement, Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) concludes the film classic “The Wizard of Oz” by enthusing, “Toto, we’re home – home! And this is my room – and you’re all here – and I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all! And… oh, Auntie Em, there’s no place like home!”

I wonder what it would be like to grow up without the peace and comfort of having a place to call home.

Habitat for Humanity’s stated mission is to “…help families build and improve places to call home.”  This organization believes that “…affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities.”

So do we.  Recently, Golden Pacific Bank, a division of SoFi Bank, N.A., granted $10,000 to the Yuba Sutter Habitat for Humanity.

In appreciation, one of its team members wrote this lovely letter:

“My name is Amber Burwell and I am part of the team at Habitat for Humanity Yuba/Sutter.  We would like to thank Golden Pacific Bank, a division of SoFi Bank, N.A. for granting $10,000 to our organization. Our goal of providing affordable housing to those in our local community would not be possible without donors such as yourself, so we greatly appreciate your support.

“Like Golden Pacific, we strive to help individuals realize their ambitions, obtain responsibility over their finances, and work towards a better future.

“So, thank you, Golden Pacific Bank Yuba City and Sofi, once again for believing in our mission and helping those in need take the next steps towards homeownership and financial independence. Lastly, we’d like to give a special thanks to Nina Singh, Vice President Senior Branch Manager, and Virginia Varela, President of Golden Pacific Bank for informing us of this amazing funding opportunity.”

How many different ways are there to say, “You’re most welcome”? Maybe Dorothy would know.

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