Sports | October 24, 2017 1:08 pm

Why ‘The Athletic’ Wants to Destroy Your Newspaper’s Sports Section

San Francisco–based sports media startup fires warning shots at local newspapers.

A San Francisco sports media startup is making waves after giving a rather ballsy interview to the New York Times in which they threatened to lay waste to and pillage the newspaper industry’s sports sections, Game of Thrones–style. And they’re putting their money where their mouth is, hiring up a gaggle of talent nationwide.

“We will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing,” Alex Mather, a co-founder of The Athletic, told the Times. “We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment. We will make business extremely difficult for them.”

The subscription- and app-based service mimics newspaper sports section pages, and has been around since 2016. Only subscribers who pay about $60/year or less, based on discounts, get full access to the site.

Mather goes on to ratchet things up, saying: “In a city like Chicago, there are 100,000 die-hard fans. That is a very lucrative subscription business. There are over 100,000 die-hard fans of Chicago teams outside of Chicago. Bleacher Report is empty calories. SB Nation is empty calories. The newspapers are doing nothing.”

Deadspin, one of the better and more irreverent sports blogs left standing on the planet, wasn’t hearing any of it. Writes Patrick Redford: “[Mather’s comments] are rude things to say, and using the space allotted to you by a paper like the Times to call your competitors morons and openly wish for their demise (especially when you are new to the industry, as The Athletic’s founders are) is something an asshole would do.” Redford goes on to argue the other obvious point: “[That] The Athletic is a fusion of old-timey newspapers and sports blogs, whether their founders want to admit it or not.”