Is the newspaper sport page in demise?

Published 05 April 2011  |  
A phenomena of the last century were the sport pages of newspapers, and how this became ingrained into the psycho of every sport loving nation.

The back pages of every major newspaper in any city or provincial centre was dominated by sport. It was said that people turned to the back page first as there was always a victory.

And victories are good to read. The back page of the newspaper featured victory after victory and large photographs of athletes whose lives were centered on victories.

It was the one place where people got a sense of achievement, particularly in such sports as tennis with the Davis Cup (The Tennis World Cup), where the entire nation took pride in the victory.

I mention the Davis Cup as an example, as I recall in the 60's when working in the school holidays as a telegraph boy in Canberra, delivering telegrams from the National Post Office to Parliament House and Government Office buildings. It seemed as though the nation stood still when the Davis Cup was contested.

The next day the back page of the Canberra Times was all Davis Cup. This was seared into my collective memory from my growing-up years.

When I left school and worked on the New South Wales Government Railways as a locomotive engineman, when working passenger trains from Wollongong to Sydney, the sight that caught me eye of interest, were the people who had newspapers and reading from the back page (sport).

Australians loved the back page of the newspaper, as do the British and Americans. I cannot recall how many American and British black and white feature films I've seen over the years – (sometimes repeated today on pay-television) - of newspaper sport reporters and the editor's pressure to get the story "for the back page".

This tradition, established for over a century, sport and back page is ingrained into society's around the world.

The question is now, how the internet, iPad, iPhone, and on-line news and their technological derivatives are affecting the newspaper 'back page'.

First, technology does not have a back page. The reader clicks 'sport' and the world of sport is opened with a selection of sport news.

Second, only major sport seems to be a part of major newspapers online sport. I've tried to find softball results, field hockey scores, diving results. The hard copy newspaper such sport data was often detailed in the 'tiny print results' columns.

Third, to get anything of this "secondary sport" nature, one clicks on that national sport web site or some other results orientated sport web site. The detail is given and a lot more besides. One can find athlete profiles, previous results, future event schedules and the like.

As the media industry moves to more online news, including sport, these changes are inevitable. The iPad and iPhone are coming into their own. Waiting at the doctor, suburban train, coffee shop, over lunch - wherever – the iPad and iPhone has it all.

Moreover, sport specific web sites are a finger tip away, and the reader is not restricted to what a sport editor considers news worthy.


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