Locke: Star Corners the Market on Bad Online Local Preps Sports Coverage

“If you don’t like your job, you don’t strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.” – Homer Simpson

It’s all very easy to criticize The Kansas City Star anymore, but sometimes The Star itself just makes it so easy.

A topic The Star should be able to take ownership of online quite easily is high school sports. The interest level locally appears quite high, so the potential for revenue Рsomething The Star desperately needs, if we go by the layoffs and two weeks of furlough this year Рshould be there.

Thus a concerted online effort for prep sports would seem to be a natural (why The Star doesn’t have a site devoted to the Chiefs is an even deeper mystery). Instead, what Kansas City’s biggest news gathering operation puts out is a little abortion of a website called Varsity Zone. It looks bad, works worse, is in need of a jolt organizationally, isn’t being updated during football season (huh?), and doesn’t even compare to more professional-looking sites locally. It looks downright amateurish.

What’s it even doing there at all?

What started all of this for me was wanting to see how Lee’s Summit High School was doing this season. Let’s visit the Lee’s Summit page on Varsity Zone and find out, shall we?

The Star’s effort at high school football results for Lee’s Summit. Note how it sucks.

So, according to The Star, there are results for only three games, and of those, only two of the games have scores. Three of the games scheduled don’t even have scores listed. The games aren’t even listed in chronological order. The home games are first and the away games are next. I figured that out. I was unable to figure out why, however.

If the Chiefs issued a pocket schedule that listed home games first, away games last, you’d chalk it up to a printing error and throw it away.¬†

I also figured out there had to be a better high school sports site in Kansas City, even if it was run by a bunch of nine-year olds. I quickly found one. Now let’s take a look at prepskc.com.

Overall record? Check. Games in chronological order? Check. All games have a score? Check. Tidy. Well-organized. And lots of advertising. Run by nine-year olds? Seriously doubt it.

So, PrepsKC.com 1, Varsity Zone zero. But as far as content and usability go (not to mention accuracy), prepskc.com is scooping up Varsity Zone fumbles on every possession. It’s not even close.

I can see why Varsity Zone only gets a single mention on the home page of kansascity.com: frankly, I’d be embarassed to mention it at all.

It appears they’ve managed to con local grocery store chain Hy-Vee into advertising on the site, but beyond that there are no other advertisers.

If The Star’s future is online, the future has pretty much passed The Star by when other sites can come in and take over preps coverage online and capitalize on The Star’s lack of effort towards high school sports.

Preps may not be everybody’s field of interest, but the Varsity Zone effort – if you want to call it that – is indicative of an organization that, with bodies flying out of every door at 18th and Grand, is trying to do too much with too little.

Or perhaps it was just better to do it really half-assed.

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4 Responses to Locke: Star Corners the Market on Bad Online Local Preps Sports Coverage

  1. the dude says:

    Mediocrity is the new norm, and thy name is The Star.

  2. harley says:

    Chuck your so full of crap. I no Norm. Norm is a friend of mine. his name isnt Mediocrity. May be you should check your facts before you start spouting storys abouyt people you no. Your an idiot. I had lunhc last week with Norm, he gave me all the dirt on you so dont make me come back hear and out you.
    If you want a knew life email me at law4life1000000000@yahoo. Harley will help anyone any time if you just ask. I can teech you how to fax check and have you righting on the national seen in no time flat. All you have to do is humble yourselfs and ask. Harley will help the little people any time. Your already a fan reder and disciples of mine Im glad to assissist.

  3. Rick Nichols says:

    First off, the traditional term in referring to Mr. Nelson’s 1911 brick fortress is “18th & Grand” and not “17th & Grand,” but you were only a block off – not bad. At any rate, it probably is a case of trying to do too much with too little, so I think The Star would be well advised to scale back their coverage of the Chiefs in particular and the NFL in general and instead focus more on high school and small college sports within and close to the greater Kansas City area. I maintain that giving the Chiefs a lot of ink week after week isn’t going to do anything in the way of increasing overall circulation (hey, how many of the players can actually read?), so why not devote additional time and resources to “small ball” where the effort is more likely to pay off in new subscribers. The general sentiment out there among the media types is, “We’ve just got to cover them, they’re the Chiefs.” Well, yes … and no.