Welcome to thepublicleague.com!
First, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Eric Van Dril. I’m 29-years-old and I live on the Northwest side of Chicago.
Prior to launching this website, I worked for the Pioneer Press papers — a group of suburban publications that were owned Sun-Times Media and are now owned by Chicago Tribune Media (tronc) — for a little more than four years. You can read some of my past work at ericvandril.com.
I’m sure you have a number of questions about this website. I’ll do my best to answer some of them.
What is thepublicleague.com? What will it look like?
My vision for thepublicleague.com is rather straightforward.
I am going to provide the best, most in-depth coverage of Chicago Public League football and boys basketball. That includes a ton of game coverage, as well as feature stories, columns, standings, Q&As, recruiting updates, alumni updates and more.
The majority of The Public League’s content will focus on high school athletics. Football will dominate in the fall. Boys basketball will dominate in the winter. Both sports will be covered in the spring and summer.
This website will produce content during all 12 months of the year. It will also include updates, stories and Q&As with alumni.
Why is thepublicleague.com needed at this point in time?
Traditional media outlets like the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune have had to cut back their coverage of the Chicago Public League in recent years, but the amount of interest in CPS athletics — especially football and boys basketball — has not changed.
If anything, it’s stronger than ever.
One of the primary goals of this site is to satisfy that demand.
Beyond that, the Chicago Public League continues to do amazing things. In 2015, Phillips won the CPL’s first-ever state championship in football. The Curie basketball team not only won its first sectional title earlier this year, it won the Class 4A state championship.
Those are just two examples. There are countless thrilling games and compelling stories that go uncovered, or undercovered, each year. This website will decrease that number significantly.
Will my school/team be covered? How will you decide who and what to cover?
I plan on covering all of the big games. I plan on covering every Morgan Park-Simeon basketball game, for instance. I can’t wait for my first Curie-Kenwood basketball game. I already have the Week 3 Phillips-Simeon football game circled on my calendar.
Power-house programs and the city’s top players will likely receive a lot of coverage, but so too will a so many other schools. One of the great things about how the CPS football schedule is structured is that there will be plenty of opportunities for me to cover games and write feature stories about people, teams and schools that wouldn’t be covered very often — if at all — by other media outlets.
The same principle will also be true during basketball season.
Furthermore, I plan on covering teams and games not just in the Red divisions, but in the Blue, White and even Green divisions during basketball season. The same is true for the Chicago and Inter-City conferences during football season. The teams in the Illini divisions won’t be the only ones who will be written about.
You can help customize this website’s coverage by taking less than a minute to fill out this survey.
Why not cover every sport? Why only football and boys basketball?
I would love to cover every sport, but it’s not feasible at this point. This website’s staff, at the time of thepublicleague.com’s launch, is just one person. My time will be dedicated to providing as much quality, intriguing content as I can each week.
What else will be different about thepublicleague.com?
The other biggest difference between this website and other media organizations — including the Tribune, the Sun-Times and DNAinfo — is that thepublicleague.com won’t give away all of its content for free.
In my opinion, the business won’t survive if it does so.
Therefore, thepublicleague.com will charge for all of its unique content.
The prices will be reasonable. A single article will cost the same as one stamp (47 cents). A monthly subscription will cost about the same as one Chipotle burrito. Broken down, a yearly subscription will cost less than $1.55/week.
I think those prices are fair.
Not all content will cost money, however.
Plus, my plan as the site launches is to make each piece of content free for 30-60 minutes at a pre-specified time. If I cover a football game, for example, the content will be free the morning after it. I plan to announce that time on the website and on social media.
One of the main reasons why I intend to do this is that I was a high school student once. I know how difficult it is to generate money when you’re that age. I want to make this website accessible for people to read about their friends, teams and schools.
thepublicleague.com can’t always be free, but hopefully having its stories available for 30-60 minutes allows for high-school students to read it on a regular basis.
Will paying for thepublicleague.com be worth it?
I think so.
Over time, I hope you feel the same way.
The goal I’ve had throughout my career is to produce content that is accurate, fair, full of details and intriguing. That won’t change with thepublicleague.com.
The Chicago Public League is full of compelling stories. I can’t wait to tell them.