The Chicago Sun-Times reported this morning that longtime columnist Jay Maritotti was leaving the paper “to pursue other opportunities.” Though there wouldn’t seem to be an unlimited number of opportunities to make Rex Grossman cry or to goad Ozzie Guillen into calling Jay a fag (professionally, anyway), wherever it happens next will probably be online Mariotti tells the Chicago Tribune’s Jim Kirk (links courtesy Jason Cohen).

Just back from Beijing where he wrote about the Summer Olympics, Mariotti said in a phone interview Tuesday night that he decided to quit after it became clear while in China that sports journalism had become “entirely a Web site business. There were not many newspapers there.” He added that most of the journalists covering the Games were “there writing for Web sites.”

He said that he “is talking with a lot of Web sites” and added that the future of his business “sadly is not in newspapers.” Mariotti said that he sent a resignation letter to Cyrus Freidheim, Sun-Times Media Group Chief Executive and Sun-Times Publisher. When asked via email by the Tribune whether Mariotti had resigned, Sun-Times Editor Michael Cooke responded, “You’re kidding?”

“I’m a competitor and I get the sense this marketplace doesn’t compete,” Mariotti said. “Everyone is hanging on for dear life at both papers. I think probably the days of high stakes competition in Chicago are over.

“To see what’s happened in this business…I don’t want to go down with it.”