Historical Issue Analysis and Decision-Making: Analyzing the Decision to Suspend Sports Coverage in The Stars and Stripes
The sports page was a popular feature of The Stars and Stripes, which, in its early months in operation, reported on the A.E.F. football league and boxing and wrestling championship bouts, as well as sporting news from the United States.
In the summer of 1918, however, events prompted the newspaper's editors to make an unusual decision. The July 19, 1918, edition of the paper reported on an appeal to draft boards by baseball players who wanted to be exempted from the draft on the grounds that baseball was an "essential business." A week later, the paper reported on Secretary of War Newton Baker's ruling that baseball was a non-essential occupation:
"Secretary Baker gave out no half-way decision. He went on to say that ball players are men of unusual physical ability, dexterity and alertness, just the type needed to help in the game of war at home and abroad. He also brought out the very plain point that people at home could very well do without a recreation that depended for its existence upon a class or type badly needed for the greater game of winning the war."
On the same page of the July 26 edition, The Stars and Stripes reacted to the ballplayers' actions by suspending the paper's sports page. A follow-up article, "Shipyard Athletic Patriots," reported that some athletes took jobs in the shipyards in order to avoid the draft and continue their athletic careers on weekends.
Read the announcement regarding discontinuation of the sports page as a regular feature in The Stars and Stripes and the news articles reporting on the issue.
- What reasons were given for discontinuing the popular page in the weekly paper?
- How did the editorial staff reflect the comments of the Secretary of War?
- Why did the announcement single out sports figures like Cobb, Willard, Ruth, Fulton, and Johnson?
- How did the August 2 article "Shipyard Athletic Patriots" reinforce the paper's decision to suspend the weekly sports page?
- What arguments might have been made to continue the sports page?
- Do you think the decision to discontinue the sports page was a good one? Why or why not?
On December 20, The Stars and Stripes announced on the front page that the sports page would resume in the next issue of the paper.