On Dec. 24, 2008, Mark Cuban wrote a post in his personal blog titled, “Why Pro Sports Need Newspapers.”
Cuban wrote at the time:
Professional Sports Leagues and teams, if we want to continue to connect to our local casual sports fan, needs to work with our local papers to try to keep them alive as long as possible.
More importantly, from a business perspective, because their customer base skews older, they dont use the net as a primary source of data, they have more disposable income to buy tickets and merchandise for themselves, their businesses and their families. In other words, their customers pay our bills.
Because of that, Cuban proposed that pro sports leagues actually employ media members:
My suggestion to the powers that be in the leagues I have spoken to is to have the leagues work together and create a “beatwriter co-operative” . We need to create a company that funds, depending on the size of the market and number of teams, 2 or more writers per market, to cover our teams in depth. The writers would cover multiple teams and multiple sports.
For the newspapers, its a way to get employees off the books, retain good writers that have a history with the papers and teams, and actually improve their publications. The leagues and teams depend on quantity and quality of coverage. We need to recognize the weaknesses of those we depend on and start addressing them today.
Cuban remains the first and only major league pro sports team owner I’ve seen place so much value on the media that he would suggest paying them himself. (For which he deserves credit, I might add.)
On August 5, 2010, Cuban wrote the following in the same blog about his bid to buy the Texas Rangers:
What I have learned in 11 years in the sports business is that the dumbest guys in the room are always the media guys. Some do a decent job of reporting, most just spew opinions. And those opinions change more often than they brush their teeth. So what the media was saying was of zero impact or influence on what i was going to do. Listening to the media only increases your odds of failing at whatever you are doing. So I ignore them.
That passage doesn’t exactly square with the value Cuban previously placed on sports media in his 2008 post.
Cuban’s hostility was clearly aimed at columnists, television pundits and the many reporters who now spice opinion into their work. I fully recognize that his 2008 proposal to pay media members was contingent on local, in-depth coverage of teams. Coverage that presumably wouldn’t have included any opinion makers.
But as someone who spent 16 years covering pro sports teams, I can confirm that even the most objective reporters can’t help but allow opinions to encroach into their work. Those beat reporters also face daily dilemmas on what to cover and what to ignore. That unto itself is an opinion.
But all those finer points surely went out the window with 99% of the people who read Cuban’s blanket statement last week about the business - and that’s all that matters.
A statement that included Cuban noting that media members’ “opinions change more often than they brush their teeth.”
Should’ve never doubted Cuban’s expertise on the subject.