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WSJ Sports

March 10, 2009 Leave a comment

marchmad

When I went through our newspapers this morning, I opened the Wall Street Journal’s fluffy section — Personal Journal — looked at an article on its front page about a feature at tripadvisor.com that lets you compare the real costs of booking with one airline versus another on a particular route (including baggage fees, food, and so on), then read an article on the back page about the Big East basketball conference’s annual tournament that started tonight at Madison Square Garden. The Big East is the biggest of the major conferences, with 16 teams, and a noteworthy feature of this year’s tournament is that all 16 are invited, not just the top 8 or 12. It was an interesting article, to the extent that reading about the end-of-regular-season, pre-NCAA-tournament conference championships are interesting. But I didn’t think much about the fact that there was such an article. The WSJ has articles on just about any imaginable topic.

Late this afternoon, I looked at the WSJ’s front section, which evidently I had failed to do in my first pass this morning, and I noticed the banner headline on a green background stating “It’s Official – Sports in the Journal D12.” Wow! Sports in the WSJ. I mean, I knew it was due to happen. Ever since Murdoch bought it, it has slowly moved towards a regular paper. And as local papers die (our own Seattle Post-Intelligencer, owned by Hearst Corporation, is likely to die this week), the diversifying WSJ will be better positioned to compete with what are in effect its only national competitors, the NYT and USA Today. But still, a WSJ sports section? I turned immediately to D12 to see what they would be covering. And found an article about the Big East basketball conference’s annual tournament. Somehow I was oblivious this morning to the fact that I was reading the inaugural WSJ sports page. I turned back a page, anticipating that there might be more sports pages, but there weren’t. One page in from the back was the usual Leisure & Arts page. But it did have another sports article, one with a business slant written by Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith, in which the economics of the NCAA basketball tournament is discussed.

The Zimbalist article had no real surprises, but I can’t resist quoting two comments in which Zimbalist can’t quite restrain himself from pointing out, in passing, the absurdity of big-time college sports. First, in a discussion of the finances of major college basketball, he observes:
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Categories: Economics, Newspapers, Sports