Sunday, December 28, 2014

Larry Platt: SportsWeek debuts in the Daily News Oct. 1

EVER SINCE I started at this gig - going on nine months now - I'd cringe when I opened the paper we'd give to you each Saturday. We were still charging you a buck for it, but it was a stark contrast to the vibrant, entertaining, packed product we were publishing Monday through Friday. The Saturday Daily News was often a mere 36 pages, often characterized not by the compelling (and sometimes maddening) commentary of Byko and Ronnie, the lifestyle gems of Jenice Armstrong, or the textured narratives of Jason Nark, but by generic wire-service copy.

I was embarrassed. And you weren't too happy, either: Our newsstand sales on Saturday were a fraction of our weekday numbers. The one thing that, as always, shined on Saturdays was our sports section, a section I've been addicted to ever since I was a kid in these parts.

Well, we've decided to play to our strength.

Next Saturday will mark the final Saturday edition of the Daily News. In its place, effective Oct. 1, will be SportsWeek, a weekly publication powered by the Daily News that seeks to cover this town's shared passion in a way that goes beyond the field of play. SportsWeek will marry all the hallmarks of the Daily News' best sports section in America with the best elements of a weekly magazine, one that goes behind the scenes to introduce you to the people, trends and ideas that make up our ongoing sports drama.

With a mix of stylish writing, surprising viewpoints, stunning photography and eye-catching design, SportsWeek will be a must-read for the casual and rabid fan alike. In our pages, you will be taken into the Phillies' clubhouse and see the people skills of Charlie Manuel at work; you will get intimate moments with your favorite players (just wait till you hear what Bernard Hopkins does to relax!), and, from the creative mind of SportsWeek features editor Becky Batcha, you will get an energetic travelogue of the Philly fan experience - from the best Man Caves to local fitness tips to our picks for the sports bars you must sidle up to before you die.

As always, you'll get great writing, from iconic legends like Bill Conlin and Mark Kram to upstart wordsmiths like David Murphy. And there will be some provocative contributions from A.J. Daulerio, the infamous Philly native who is editor of Deadspin.com, as well as the literary stylings of WIP's Anthony Gargano. There also will be a surprise advice columnist - a well-known, loudmouthed, brash, entertaining character on the Philly sports scene who will answer your queries, be they about matters of the heart, wallet or psyche. (To submit a question in advance to Philly's soon-to-be equivalent of Dear Abby - if Dear Abby were a foulmouthed jock - email dnadvice@phillynews. com). And, as in the papers Monday through Friday, there will be you: If the Daily News is the People's Paper, we want SportsWeek to be the Fan's Paper, so your voice will coarse through its pages and online at phillysportsweek.com.

When I was a high-school senior, all four major pro teams went to the Finals in their respective sports, with the Phils winning it all. But it didn't feel like this. This is a great moment in Philadelphia sports and, therefore, a great moment in Philadelphia. Now, in an ever-fractured world, our sports bind us like never before. A great moment like this deserves a great publication to chronicle it - to document our shared highs and, heaven forbid, to provide a forum for handling the lows. SportsWeek will be the Bible of Philadelphia sports, and it will be as passionate and eloquent as you, the fan. It will also be a work in progress, so let me know what you want in your weekly sports holy book: lplatt@phillynews.com.

Larry Platt
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