Tribune May Expand High School Sports Network

Tribune is eyeing the launch local editions of Varsity MyTeam in all its newspaper markets and perhaps the creation of a national high school sports database that would include non-Tribune papers, following the successful launch of the high school sports service by The Orlando Sentinel. The Varsity MyTeam concept, which features team data, personal home pages on each player, video and photos, may also be extended to little league, Pop Warner, weekend softball leagues and senior golfers. A social networking element may also be added.

The site is getting about 200,000 page views per month during football season. Its content is also being reverse published in the print edition.

Roger Simmons, a breaking news editor who works on the site, shared details about the site’s development during award presentations at the 2007 Knight Batten Symposium and Awards for Innovations in Journalism, which was held this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The Sentinel was awarded $1,000 by the foundation.

Simmons said the biggest challenge faced by the site was getting high schools to upload the sports data to the site. But more than 60 percent of schools are now uploading their data after the Sentinel team deployed such aggressive tactics as publishing the name of schools that didn’t send in their data.

Now, Simmons says, the biggest challenge is to keep some exclusivity to the information. He says that since Varsity MyTeam launched, three area TV stations have come out with similar products.

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