USA Today reported on Wednesday ESPN will be shutting down its high school business unit effective mid-September. About 75 employees will lose their jobs.
Sources confirmed that Dyestat, the track and field arm of ESPN’s high school department, will be among the websites eliminated.
Dyestat was founded in 1995 by high school track parent John Dye and grew over time to be the nation’s top website for prep track and field coverage under the moniker “The Internet Home of Track and Field.”
In 2004, Dye sold Dyestat to Student Sports, which in turn was acquired by ESPN in 2008. Dyestat was merged with ESPN’s high school network called ESPN RISE.
The situation is eerily similar to the manner in which college track and field site Track Shark was shut down in 2009 after being sold to sports and entertainment conglomerate Wasserman Media Group a year earlier.
The lesson? Media outlets focusing on niche sports are better off sticking it out on their own rather than succumbing to corporate buyouts. Once in the hands of parent companies, the focus on passion is replaced by corporate profit motive.
The elimination of Dyestat leaves a black hole in the world of high school track and field coverage.
The partnership between Flotrack and Milesplit announced yesterday makes much more sense now. Perhaps pairing the resources of both sites can fill the void left by Dyestat.