The Athletic: New ‘thought-provoking’ Chicago sports website debuts

The Athletic

The Athletic

Three former contributors to ESPN Chicago are founding writers for The Athletic, a new subscription website aimed at covering Chicago’s professional sports teams “with thought-provoking writing and enlightening statistics.”

Jon Greenberg, Sahadev Sharma and Scott Powers, all ESPN Chicago veterans, were announced Monday as the new site’s main writers. Greenberg, named as founding editor, will write on all sports and run editorial operations in Chicago. Sharma will cover baseball, and Powers will cover hockey and basketball.

Jon Greenberg

Jon Greenberg

The Athletic will post free articles each day, but will be fully accessible by subscription only. Initially it will cost $10 a month, with yearly and special “season” subscription rates to be announced.

“What is The Athletic?” Greenberg wrote in a welcoming post. “At its core, it’s a website dedicated to bringing you news, opinion and statistics about Chicago sports. What will it look like in six months? A year? Five years? We don’t know yet, quite honestly. I was part of the founding editorial team of ESPN Chicago back in the spring of 2009 and the site evolved over the years into something pretty great.”

The Athletic was founded by Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann, two San Francisco tech entrepreneurs who’ll be building out the underlying platform and assisting with analytics and graphics.

“Here at The Athletic, we know what we want to do and that’s cover the local teams with local reporters,” Greenberg wrote. “We want to use numbers to help tell the stories, to tell the truth. But we won’t talk down to fans. We won’t try to bluff you with statistics you won’t understand. You will like visiting our website and looking at our visuals. Style matters, in our view. But substance keeps you coming back. We hope you’ll laugh and learn along with us.

“We’re here to report the news, add to the conversation, to be a part of the social fabric of America’s greatest sporting city,” he wrote.

The city’s last great digital sports venture, ChicagoSideSports.com, was founded in 2012 by Jonathan Eig and Sol Lieberman, and was to have been funded through advertising, editorial partnerships and special events. It folded after two years.

“We’re proud as hell of the work we’ve done — with stories that have appeared everywhere from Deadspin to the Wall Street Journal,” Eig said at the time. “We set out to create the best online sports outlet in Chicago, and we feel like we met our goal.”