Bob Kravitz Credit: The Dan Patrick Show

Over his long career writing for Sports Illustrated, the Rocky Mountain News, the Indianapolis Star, The Athletic, and other outlets, sports columnist Bob Kravitz made sure that readers always knew where he stood on the issue he was writing about.

That trend continued on Thursday with the debut of his new Substack newsletter, in which he absolutely torches The Athletic after being part of their most recent round of layoffs in June.

“I’m pissed I got whacked by The Athletic in early June,” starts Kravitz, who says he will be a contributor for Indianapolis Monthly magazine along with running his own Substack. “Not that it was a great job or anything – it wasn’t; more on that later – but hell, it beat the crap out of unemployment.”

Kravitz joined The Athletic in late 2018, writing at the time that he was “bullish” on the online outlet and that his new role meant “I’ll have the time and the freedom to do those kinds of pieces – columns and features – that have made the last 36 years so fun and satisfying.”

In reality, Kravitz says he found the editorial process at The Athletic to be stifling and hyper-focused on numbers.

“I had some lousy editors (and some great ones, too),” wrote Kravitz. “I was constantly questioning myself: Is this the right story idea? Did I write it well enough to produce the kinds of metrics that were absolutely central to the way we were judged? (Although my metrics were pretty strong when I got dumped; they told me the issue was the small market where I work and the move to more national approach to sports). I never felt wanted there; I felt barely tolerated.”

The 63-year-old says that he was put on “probation” soon after a quadruple bypass surgery in 2020, presumably because he wasn’t hitting his traffic numbers.

“I had to produce 395 subscriptions in three months – or else,” he writes. “That’s absurd, unfair, and outrageous, especially given my health situation. Well, I survived, producing more than 400 subs by working myself half to death, a great idea after open-heart surgery. But that soured me on the place forever. I felt it in my bones:  They don’t give a **** about me as a human being.”

The longtime sports columnist added that he constantly found himself working for new editors, all of whom wanted him to focus on a different objective. And while The Athletic publically lauds its “relentless reporting,” Kravitz says “everything was metrics.”

“There was nothing more dispiriting than working your ass off on a story, only to look at the metrics and see one subscription and 2,000 unique views. It was soul-sucking, honestly,” he wrote.

Kravitz also feels as though The Athletic ran a “bait-and-switch” on readers who signed up because they wanted local coverage, the very thing co-founder Alex Mather once said he wanted to dominate by letting local papers ‘continuously bleed” and then “suck them dry” of talent.

“And poor Indy. Totally forgotten by The Athletic. If you subscribed for coverage of local teams, well, joke’s on you. It has a bait-and-switch feel,” wrote Kravitz. “When I started out, we covered college hoops, the Pacers, the Colts, and had me as a columnist. Now we have one guy. He covers the Colts. Does a fine job on the Colts, but if you’re a hardcore Indy sports fan, why subscribe unless you’re interested in their national offerings? You don’t matter to them. Too small of a market. Doesn’t move the needle. Imagine, no college hoops coverage in Central Indiana. Like not covering hockey in Toronto.”

Kravitz’s misgivings about his time at The Athletic are not that different from what we’ve heard from former writers and employees at SB Nation, Vice, G/O Media, and many other sports outlets. So much excitement early on about the possibilities, which inevitably gets extinguished as the need to make money and make numbers takes over.

The outlet’s recent shift to essentially become the sports desk of The New York Times is also bound to impact the way it covers local markets and attempts to justify its impact on the bottom line there.

We know that not everyone has come away from their time at The Athletic with such passionate disdain for their time (at least not publicly), but we’ll be curious to see if others share similar sentiments now that Kravitz has broken the seal.

[Musings of an Old Sportswriter]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to