Readers would have noticed a steady expansion in the diversity of subjects being covered on

From the beginning, the publication has been much more than about politics. Films, books and music (audio, video and text in the case of music) have been stand-out categories for the breadth and depth of coverage. In recent months new sections have been added. Pulse, covering health was one. And now it is The Field which has expanded dramatically.

One can notice the increase in writing on sports, both in The Field section (which is targeted at the sports enthusiast) and on the home scroll. There are lots of news updates during the day, analysis and videos. There is fine writing and daily coverage. There is reporting of sports at home and abroad, though it seems to me that coverage of domestic sports is limited.

Naresh Fernandes, editor of¸ says that in light of the enthusiastic response The Field has received, there will continue to be an expansion in the coverage of sports. He now has seven full-time sports writers and freelancers contribute too, like for reporting on the England-India Test Match in Mumbai in the second week of December.

This is all for the better but I would ask if a balance is being maintained.

Taking a count

On a random check at 6 am on Thursday December 15, I did a count and here are the numbers. Articles on sports constituted the most common category in the first 30 articles vertically listed on the home scroll. There were seven sports stories, followed by six on note demonetisation, four on the arts. (The others were in diverse areas and I did not count the pieces from The Conversation.) And this was not yet the weekend when news and analysis of sports peaks. With the constant shuffling of stories that takes place on the home page, I may have chanced on a freak pattern. That is unlikely. I did a count only to confirm a visual impression I have had for a few weeks.

The editor says that The Field is targeted at the sports enthusiast and not all the articles that appear there are placed on the home page. Yes, indeed. A scan confirmed that it is so. At times though it seems like articles (snippets really) on matters of interest only to a follower of sports find their way to the home page. Like this one from last week on why Roger Federer was better off not playing the International Premier Tennis League in 2016.

Sports followers also love lists and anniversaries. But sometimes they are events which even for sports aficionados are minor. Like the anniversary of when Sachin Tendulkar overtook Sunil Gavaskar in the number of Test centuries scored. Yet, on this anniversary of a Test match in 2005 we had this piece with a 10-minute video on December 10 , also on the home page.

Because of the uniqueness of the design, which gives equal play to all stories that appear on the home pages, readers would not know until they were well into the two pieces that they may not be of wider interest.

Is there an imbalance creeping in with too much on sports? team could pause and have a look at whether or not too many sports stories are appearing on the home page and whether or not sports stories of narrow interest are leaving The Field section and making it to the main section. And within the coverage of sports, I also think there is too much of headline international sport (English Premier League and Champions League) and less of domestic sports. This is an old challenge that has bedevilled coverage in traditional media. Coverage of international sport and certain sports (cricket, of course, and now European football) feeds the interests of certain readers and does little for domestic sport. could think of how to deal with this challenge.

There is a bit of an irony in this particular column. The increased coverage of sports has been endorsed by readers and here is the Readers’ Editor asking the publication to pause and think. To clarify: An expansion in news coverage and analysis of sports cannot be faulted. What could do is think about what to give prominence to and what to keep in The Field section, what to cover and what not to cover, and of course to see sports as important, one of many important areas to cover.

Readers may wholeheartedly support the fairly dramatic expansion in the writing and videos on sports, but also needs to continuously think about what it wants to be and not just what the readers want. I would think a publication that provides rich and diverse writing on all areas in equal measure.

Lest the sports aficionados among the readers of this column think this is a curmudgeon critic of sports speaking, I want to assure all of them that I look at everything. My eyes now increasingly glaze over what Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi say about demonetisation, but you can be sure I will watch the video of the six-year-old fan of Lionel Messi many times over.

Write to the Readers’ Editor at