Game on: Covering the multibillion-dollar sports industry
From kid leagues to college, lots of money and shifting rules make the playing field tough for anyone trying to uncover the rougher side of sports. Little League organizations have virtually no oversight of their finances or rules. High school athletic associations are nonprofit groups that lord over millions of teenage athletes and can loft hefty punishments against students, most of whom never will play in college. And at colleges, TV money has tripled athletics revenue, which has warped spending at a lot of schools, enriching coaches and marketing agencies alike.
But name and likeness lawsuits, helmet safety issues, Title IX lawsuits, player pay and other issues have started demanding a piece of that money. At the same time, bribery scandals, academic fraud, sexual assault and other problems can make you wonder if anyone’s really in charge. Here's what you need to know about the changing landscape and where to find documents and data to help uncover these important local sports stories.
Jill Riepenhoff is a producer for InvestigateTV. Prior to joining the national TV team in 2017, she was an investigative reporter at The Columbus Dispatch for more than three decades. With that many years under her belt, she has written about all sorts of unsavory characters/agencies/laws. She also likes to dig into sports from time to time. She is a member of the IRE Board of Directors. @JRiep
Christopher Schnaars is a database editor with the USA TODAY Network, where he dabbles with campaign finance data, assists other reporters with data analysis and occasionally writes semi-functional Python code. @chrisschnaars
Upton is Knight Chair in Data and Explanatory Journalism at Syracuse University. Her students have contributed to USA TODAY, CNN and other media. Her students also helped develop data for the Syrian Accountability Project, which tracks Syrian War casualties. Previously, she led an award-winning team of journalists and researchers at USA TODAY, covering data-driven topics including Medicare fraud, new economy jobs, mass killings and college football coaches’ salaries.
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