While places like Texas and Arizona are experiencing major outbreaks of COVID-19, the Philly area is mostly steady. However, on Friday, Pennsylvania reported its highest daily total of coronavirus cases since May, at over 1,000 new cases and Allegheny County continued to be a hot spot. You can explore more case numbers by county with maps, charts, and more at inquirer.com/virustracker.
Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with sports editor Gary Potosky about how the pandemic could affect professional sports in the long run.
This has been a strange year for sports. Is anything close to coming back?
Every sport has increasingly defined plans to come back, but the virus could still shut down some or all of it. NASCAR, golf, and European soccer have restarted to mixed results in terms of people getting COVID-19.
What do you think might be the long-lasting effects of the pandemic on professional sports?
One potential long-lasting effect could be how athletes interact with fans and media. It’s hard to imagine fans not coming back if there’s no risk of serious illness, but maybe pro teams and universities won’t find it so easy to interact with the public.
Suspending seasons aside, has anything about covering sports surprised you during this time?
It surprises me how high a priority sports is for so many people. With all the serious issues like PPE shortages for health-care workers, heavily burdened hospitals, and an alarming nursing home crisis, just to name a few, people are starving for sports. It’s really remarkable.
How have you and the sports staff been doing during all this? What has changed about coverage?
The Inquirer sports staff decided in the first days after the leagues shut down that we would cover the pandemic, but we would also write with the assumption that sports would return this year. We could have been wrong, but we decided we would write it that way until it wasn’t true. In the 100 or so days since the shutdowns, our sports team – which saw at one point nine full-time writers move into news roles – has published roughly 1,150 stories. Our Phillies coverage team has published more than 160 stories without a single game being played.
What is a sports headline or story you found interesting but might have been drowned out by other news this year?
(Former St. Joe’s star) Natasha Cloud becoming the first woman basketball player to be a spokesperson for Converse. She’s not considered among the league’s best players, but it’s a subtle and significant thing to happen to a brand that brags of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as spokesmen.
Why did you become a journalist? What is one thing you wish more people better understood about your job?
I became a journalist because I have always been a sports fan and I wanted to cover the Yankees. I never did (I did cover the NY Giants for a year), but I found my calling in newspaper reporting during the 1980s and never wavered. I never thought about doing anything else for a living. Not for a minute. Still haven’t.
One thing I wish more people understood about my job: I approach sports stories the same way news approaches its stories, looking for reader value, news, good reporting, good storytelling, and timely publishing.
Regular city life isn’t quite the same, but residents are out enjoying the summer while social distancing. Thanks for sharing these shots of daily life, @matthewscottbarber.
Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!
This summer, the stoop is where it’s at. It’s where it’s safe. With just a few small changes, we can turn our stoops, porches, or backyards into an outdoor social space. If we’re careful, we can even have two or three friends over. But social distancing is still important to controlling the spread of the virus, so please remember to maintain a distance of 6 feet from people who don’t live with you. Here are some ideas for sprucing up your stoop.
“Whether or not you are religious, the really heartbreaking part of these church demolitions is that they were built with the nickels and dimes and volunteer of people who came here with faith in a dream. There was so much love put into them.” — curmudgeon, on The new owner of St. Laurentius Church in Fishtown wants to demolish it as soon as possible.