Tribune Bridges Divide

Darren Zaslau, Sports Editor

Athletes are generally viewed under a microscope for their actions on and off the field. As a result of the public criticizing their every move, a large divide exists between the fan and player.

Recently, The Players’ Tribune has bridged that gap. Founded by former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in 2014, this new media platform provides sports talk and personal stories written by the athletes themselves. With the creation of the The Players’ Tribune, athletes’ voices have the potential to be heard across the globe.

“It’s a trusted place, a place where they can speak freely and not have to worry about how their words are twisted and turned,” Jeter said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

This publication is great for sports because it allows athletes to communicate more easily with the sports community and their fans. As players directly share their own personal experiences, people will gain a better understanding of their favorite sports heroes. Athletes who have caused controversy with their opinions may be more accepted as people learn more about their background.

The Players’ Tribune has increased in popularity over the past year given the numerous athletes who have used the publication to share important information. David Ortiz, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant all used it to announce their retirement. Andrew McCutchen wrote an article about his experiences in baseball after dealing with poverty. Women athletes have also used The Players’ Tribune to explain their personal experiences in sports. New York Liberty players such as Swin Cash, Essence Carson and Tanisha Wright explained their encounters with race and gender in the WNBA on the site.

Not only have professional athletes made contributions in this publication, college athletes participate too. With the Final Four wrapping up, college basketball players turned to The Players’ Tribune to share their experiences playing in the pressure-filled NCAA Tournament games.

Moe Wagner, a forward for the University of Michigan’s men’s basketball team, wrote about his squad’s adversity-filled journey to the Sweet 16. On March 8, the team’s plane skidded on the runway trying to take off en route to the Big 10 Tournament in Washington, DC. It was at that point that Wagner said he knew his life was in jeopardy.

“I’m pretty much running for my life. We evacuate onto the wing, while the plane is still moving,” Wagner wrote in his article.

The players and all other passengers were safely evacuated, and the Wolverines became even closer as a team, winning two games in the NCAA Tournament to make the Sweet 16. Because The Players’ Tribune published this story, college basketball fans across the globe have a better understanding of what helped unite Michigan and lead them to success.

In women’s college basketball, Mississippi State University made history last Friday, defeating the University of Connecticut 66–64 in the national semifinal. The victory ended UConn’s 111-game win streak, the longest in college-basketball history. The game, which ended in dramatic fashion as Morgan William made a buzzer-beating basket in overtime for the win, will always be remembered. In her article titled, “The Reason I Play,” William talked about how the loss of her father impacted her performance on the floor.

“My dad had taught me so many things, about basketball and about life, but he’d never prepared me for dealing with death,” William wrote in the article.

William, who refers to herself as a “pretty quiet person,” was given the opportunity to share her life story through The Players’ Tribune. Since its release, over 1,200 athletes have contributed content to the publication. These stories will spread throughout the world. Though the distance from the bleachers to the field will always separate athletes and sports fans, this publication serves to bridge that gap now and forever.