They’re out to kill the sports page


By the time you finish reading this article, the upstart sports news outlet called The Athletic probably will have hired another well-known sportswriter from your local newspaper. In a couple of years, once The Athletic has completed its breakneck expansion, perhaps that newspaper’s sports section will no longer exist.

“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, said in an interview in San Francisco. “We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment. We will make business extremely difficult for them.”

The Athletic is a subscription sports website and app featuring pages of local articles that roughly replicate newspaper sports sections. It launched in Chicago in January 2016 and has expanded to full coverage in seven cities, hockey coverage in eight more, national college basketball and football sites, and plans for more. Subscribers get access to all of it.

The Athletic is already one of the biggest sports media companies in the country, with about 65 editorial employees. “Our ambition is to be the local sports page for every city in the country,” Mather said.