Wednesday, August 17, 2005

AJC Sports Plus (minus)


What I have long been hoping for has finally happened.

Sometime ago, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, my hometown paper, started a new online service called AJC Sports Plus. All of the AJC's online sports content had been served up for free over the internet for blokes like myself, who are diehard Atlanta Sports Fans (yes, we do exist), and want to stay connected even though we don't live in Atlanta anymore.

So you could read Furman Bisher, one of the legends of sportswriting, every time he wrote one of his instantly memorable columns, even though a hard copy of the AJC hasn't landed on your doorstep in years. You could read the annoying-yet-watchable-like-a-car-wreck "Vents", and read the Braves Blog where generally uninformed Atlanta Sports Fans griped about whatever was fashionable to gripe about. You could get practice updates from 'tween the hedges and infuse your blood with some precious red and black.

Somewhere along the line, the AJC upper-level moustaches decided that they should follow suit with a handful of papers in overzealous sports towns and start a premium subscriber-based portion for their online sports page. The problem is that, Atlanta has little in common with a town like Milwaukee, where Packers fans will buy anything that brings them just a little bit more information about their precious footballers.

So if you already paid for a subscription to the paper, where you could read Bisher, Terence Moore, Mark Bradley, Jeff Schultz, and Tony Barnhart, now you had to pay like 10 bucks a month for the privilege of reading those same columns online.

The main sports stories continued to be free, even most of the player/coach/story type features, but all columnists, blogs, Vents, and anything else that they deemed "premium" now was relegated to a pay site.

I'm about as dedicated to pro Atlanta Sports as one can be, and I didn't even consider signing up for the pay service. Granted, maybe I"m a little more on the "broke" side of the typical Atlanta Sports Fan, but I don't think I would have paid, even if I had the money to do it.

So I haven't read a Furman Bisher column in months and months, whom I absolutely adore. I saw him in the pressbox after a Georgia game and almost went up to meet him, but chickened out at the last minute and later wrote him an email instead. He immediately wrote me back and told me if I ever saw him again, that I better stop by and say hello.

This week, VERY quietly, the AJC changed the name from AJC Sports Plus to AJC Sports Zone and quit charging for the service that was, whether they'll admit it or not, a total and complete miscalculation and failure. I mean, why in the world would you quit charging for it if it was working?

You can read about the decision HERE, though not much information was given, on the watchdog/news website

Kudos to the AJC for recognizing that they're dumbasses. A parade is in order.

I'm sure they were hoping that no one would notice their change of heart, but I'm sure the people who they suckered into paying money for this last year or definitely noticed. According to, they're sending pro-rated checks out to the folks who've already paid for this next month.

I tell you what, the timing couldn't have been better, because I was considering a switch to becoming an Arkansas Sports Fan. And then I realized that my life would be spent trying to enjoy 7-4 college football seasons with no meaningful rivalries, driving to Kansas City for baseball, Kansas City, Dallas or St. Louis for Pro football, and watching the appropriately termed "40 minutes of Hell" that is Arkansas basketball.

Thanks AJC. I'm back. Go Braves, Dogs, Falcons.......

oh heck, "Go Hawks" as well.