The rumors appear to be true. ESPN.com has thrown in the towel on its high school sports coverage, according to Sports Business Daily.
The move will cost an estimated 75 people their jobs.
Aram’s take: As many of you probably know, several former prep sports writers (and some very good young talent) and various former sports writers from around the Southland latched on at ESPN.com after losing their gigs in the newspaper world. I don’t know how many of them will be affected by this announcement. I hope none. It’s never good to see people in this industry lose their jobs, which is an all too common occurrence, unfortunately. I have long viewed prep sports coverage as a major growth area in the world of sports media. The popularity is surely there. And although I don’t know whether FOX Sports Preps Zone is making any money, it does show that a major media company is trying to grab a share of the market. ESPN’s involvement up until now also showed that. The problem is that it’s very difficult to cover prep sports without the writers being EXTREMELY local. Readers will more often than not turn to their local coverage rather than a semi-national or regional source like ESPN or FOX because if the the prep sports guys are doing their jobs, there’s simply no beating them to the punch on stories, scores and maybe even analysis. I’ve maintained for a while that the biggest thing threatening the Tribune’s (or other newspapers) foothold in prep sports is the money and resources that a FOX or ESPN can spray at any endeavor. So yeah, losing a potential competitor like ESPN is a win on some level for the Tribune or OC Register, but it’s nothing worth celebrating because it appears several good men have either lost their gigs or had their financial outlook altered.