The world of sports publishing is an always-on, in-the-moment kind of experience on many levels. Instant score updates, apps that give the play-by-play, nonstop commentary on a host of media outlets. For Aaron Stahl, co-founder, editor and creative director of a new print title called Road Grays, he sees opportunity at the opposite end of instant.
“For us, I think a lot of it was wanting to provide something that allowed people to slow down a little bit, especially with sports media, there’s so much on the Internet that’s about ‘what happened in the game last night,’ ‘what’s going to happen coming up this weekend,’” said Stahl in an interview with Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni.
“It’s all about ‘right now,’” Stahl continued. “And there’s a place for that and it’s really important if you’re following a team or you’re following a sport. But we wanted to do the opposite of that. We felt like there was a niche for the exact opposite, where you’re slowing down, you’re not worrying about what’s happening right now, you’re worrying about things that are a bit more timeless. And that’s something that print can do really well.”
Stahl and his publishing partner and wife Wendy wanted to give fans a place to dig deeper into America’s sport, baseball. Their tag line is perfect: The magazine for curious baseball fans.
“The idea is that we’re using baseball as a lens to see the world,” Stahl continued. “These are stories about real people, whether it’s people who play the game, watch the game, or the people who make it happen behind the scenes. We’re not really focusing on big stars or stats, or what’s happening on the field day-to-day. Really we’re focusing on the stories that maybe you haven’t heard before, about the real people who are involved.”
It’s a perfect use for print, which is the place people go when they want deep engagement and more detailed, slowly-crafted stories. Their bi-yearly publication is in print only, and Stahl sees that as a conscious editorial choice in keeping with the stories they tell. While the publication is ad-free, part of the growing renaissance of user-supported titles, they do offer sponsorships and are innovating on the fly to develop a sustainable business model.
For baseball fans, or indeed fans of a good story, well told, Road Grays looks like a solid bet. Good luck to the Stahls on their new adventure!