Speaking at the annual conference of the North American Society of Sports Sociology yesterday, sports columnist Dave Zirin said he thinks sports sections need to be a thing of the past and that newspapers instead need to focus on providing news that is intensely local, politically engaging and important to readers' lives.
Zirin added that because sports journalists rely so much on access to athletes for their livelihood, they play along with the institutional sexism, racism and homophobia that have been part of professional sports. "The problem is that there is not more courage to challenge that," he said.
Although Zirin wondered out loud whether sports draws journalists who are conservative, he said that they are generally "anti-political" -- that is, unwilling to acknowledge the politics that are embedded in sports (thus, preserving the status quo). That is one reason what Zirin does is so unusual -- and so necessary.