Sunday, August 25, 2002
Texas paper to withhold baseball coverage
The Associated Press
HUNTSVILLE, Texas The Huntsville Item has decided, after a poll of readers, not to run any coverage of major league baseball until Friday's strike deadline.
In its Sunday editions, the newspaper reported: Item readers have spoken. Asked to strike or not to strike, 82 percent of you said, "Let's strike.' So, The Huntsville Item is going on a pro baseball strike.
There will be no stories about the Houston Astros or Texas Rangers or any other teams, no game reports, no boxscores and no major league baseball standings.
The paper plans not to cover baseball until Friday. The self-imposed strike would be lifted if an agreement between owners and players is reached before then.
The newspaper asked its readers last week how they felt about a baseball strike. Of 100 people who called, faxed or e-mailed, 82 said they support a boycott of baseball coverage, the newspaper said, and 18 said baseball coverage should continue.
Among those in favor of a one-week boycott was Ronnie Choate, former athletic director at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville.
He told the newspaper he hopes there is a baseball strike as well, because, That way, the current big-leaguers would be gone, replaced by hungry, younger players who take the field because they love the game.
Finding something to fill the sports section won't be a problem because high school football season in Texas starts Friday, managing editor David Arkin told The Associated Press Saturday night.
Ordinarily, we'd have to be trying to find more space for football coverage. Some people will miss baseball, but football rules here. Now, we've got more room for football, and I think our readers are going to be fired up about that, Arkin said.
The idea about the newspaper's strike of baseball arose a week ago, he said.
Several of us were just sitting around last Saturday night after deadline. We disagreed with it (a strike) and someone said, "why don't we ask our readers,' Arkin said.
So sports editor Tom Waddill and Arkin wrote columns asking how the readers felt about a newspaper boycott of sports coverage.
We're a small paper and ordinarily don't get such a response, but the first day we were pretty much overwhelmed, Arkin said.
Huntsville, 70 miles north of Houston, has a population of 35,000. The newspaper's circulation is 7,000, Arkin said.
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