There's no doubt about it — high school sports look a little different in 2021.
After almost a year on the shelf — high school sports were shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic back in mid-March of 2020 — Oregon high school sports finally made their return to competition beginning the week of March 1-5. And they came back with a bang, with thousands of athletes competing in hundreds of events at all levels across the state.
But like I said, things do look a little different. The athletes wear masks during their soccer games, cross country races, volleyball matches and football games. In many cases, there is only a limited number of fans — if any — who are allowed to watch their kids, grandkids, classmates or friends compete.
And it's not just on the field and in the stands that things are going to look different. Things are going to look different here at Pamplin Media Group, too, as we begin figuring out how to cover high school sports in the COVID-19 era.
While we are just at the starting point in our decision-making process, things will look dramatically different in 2021. Pamplin Media Group — which includes 20 weekly papers that previously covered high school sports — has seen dramatic changes to its business model due to the pandemic.
A year ago, PMG employed 10 full-time sports editors whose primary occupation — for about 10 months of the year every year — was covering high school sports. Due to cutbacks across the company necessary to keep Pamplin Media Group financially sound, PMG now employs just four of those same sportswriters, and all of them have taken on myriad other duties within the company.
The challenge for us is figuring out how to cover sports with vastly fewer people, fewer hours and fewer pages. First, I'll share what you'll see in our papers/on our websites initially, and what we hope to create over time as advertisers return to our pages and sponsors who love sports step up to support our efforts.
Right now, The Times will offer a weekly mix of game coverage, scores/results in a scoreboard format and features.
While things are going to look different in our sports coverage, our goal is — of course — to keep building and building to provide the best product we can.
Now for the kicker. If you love the sports coverage you've seen over the years in The Times, you can help us rebuild.
Be a Pamplin Sports Booster
We are currently looking for local businesses or organizations interested in becoming one of our Pamplin Sports Boosters. As a booster, your monthly financial support will help us hire back sports reporters to cover local sports in our communities. Support from boosters will directly go to helping fund coverage for all sports happening in Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood. The more support we receive, the sooner we can start covering more teams and more high schools.
Miles Vance is prep sports editor for Pamplin Media Group.
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