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Much of the popular and trade press coverage of The Athletic has revolved around its business model, and rightfully so. But implicit in its marketing slogans is a promise of sorts. If The Athletic styles itself as the sports news organization that is making readers “fall in love with the sports page again,” it stands to reason that they will be offering something different from the sports pages of current newspapers.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending my favorite academic conference — the International Association of Communication and Sport’s annual summit. This year’s summit was held at The Media School at the gorgeous campus of Indiana University in Bloomington.

Indiana University’s student sports media outlets provide an array of expert coverage of the 2018 Men’s and Women’s Little 500 races. Through written, radio, and video coverage, IU student sports media provides you with the key stories and trends relating to both races.

There is nothing wrong with women’s sports. They are not a puzzle to be solved. On many levels throughout the country and the world, they are doing well.

The coverage of women’s sports? Well, that’s always an issue to discuss.

Where students once turned kinesiology degrees into sports media professions in dorm room basements, the Media School now provides a home for collaborative efforts across disciplines in industry-grade facilities.

What hasn’t changed, and continues to fuel the growth of active, independent student organizations like IUSTV, is the culture of thinking outside the classroom and not waiting for others to create the opportunities they can create themselves.

One of the most interesting developments in sports journalism in the past decade has been the growth of team and league websites as news sources and the hiring of sports journalists by those sites. The journalists often act as “team journalists,” which to traditionally minded sports reporters sounds like an oxymoron but has increased the amount of information available to fans and readers.

It was a fantastic moment, quintessential March.

Except … Until.

The referees huddled around the monitor. They checked the time. They checked it again. They made sure that the clock was correct. They added .3 of a second back on the clock. Enough time for a theoretical basket, but in practice, the game was over.

The way the NCAA Selection Committee picks the tournament field is broken, and the way sports journalists cover it is broken.

If The Athletic is really about reinventing sports journalism and overthrowing the tyranny of the daily sports page (instead of just biggering the bank accounts of the VC investors), where do young writers fit into this equation? Is there a spot for them at the number of sites?

On the morning of Valentine’s Day, the newsroom is relatively empty. Par for the course for 10:15 AM on a Wednesday. But Michael Ramirez, a sophomore sports editor who also covers the men’s soccer beat and writes the men’s basketball column, is at his desk sporting a jacket and tie. IU men’s basketball has a home game against Illinois at 8:30 PM, and he’ll be covering it.

It’s an idea a lot of us around sports media have had for a long time. ESPN, Fox Sports Network, and other cable sports networks use their nightly highlight shows not as a place for journalism but as a place to promote sports — especially the sports the network has a vested interested in succeeding. It’s one of the reasons, we assume, that you see tons of NBA talk on ESPN but rarely a mention of the NHL.

Like a lot of interesting research, Johnson and Miller’s study takes this assumption that we have and tries to figure out whether or not it’s true.