How to Read the Athletic for Free

If you want to read the Athletic for free, read on. In this article, I’ll show you how you can bypass the paywall put up by the Athletic.com.


Some news sites give you a taste of their content with a few free articles. But if you want to keep reading, you’ll have to subscribe.

It’s annoying when you just want to read a single article that caught your interest, but you’re forced to pay for more than you need. I recently wanted to read an article on The athletic.com and got blocked by their paywall right in the middle!

How to Read the Athletic for Free

It just doesn’t seem right! Why pay for a whole month when I just want to read a couple of articles? That’s what got me searching for ways to get around paywalls, and I actually found something that works.

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The trick is to prepend the text 12ft.io/ before the https://theatheletic.com in your browser’s address bar. This is what you should do:

  1. Visit the article which you want to read on the atheletic.com
  2. Then, in the browser’s address bar, type in the text 12ft.io/ just before the URL appearing in your browser’s address bar. This is what it should look like:
How to read the athletic for free

Now, pressing the enter key will remove the paywall and you can now read the athletic’s article for free. However, keep in mind that some elements of the article such as images might be missing or misaligned but the text should all be there.

What’s even better is that any further link you click on will automatically be opened by 12ft.io so you wouldn’t be troubled by the paywall anymore.

What is 12ft.io

12ft.io is a website that removes paywalls from websites. Its name is a reference to a 12-foot ladder.

Show me a 10-foot wall and I’ll give you a 12-foot ladder.

The vivid metaphor makes its vision pretty clear.

12ft.io isn’t your only option for getting around paywalls. You can also try removepaywall.com. They both work in a similar way, but sometimes one will work on a website when the other doesn’t.

Why and how did it work?

News websites and online magazines use two kinds of paywalls to control access to their content: soft paywalls and hard paywalls.

Soft paywalls, like those on newyorker.com and theatlantic.com, try to block your view of an article using some clever coding. The article is there on your browser, but it’s hidden with an HTML element using some JavaScript logic. Websites like 12ft.io or removepaywall.com disable JavaScript, essentially preventing these blockades from appearing, giving you full access.

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On the other hand, hard paywalls, like the ones on Medium.com and nytimes.com are much stricter. They only show you an excerpt or a first few paragraphs of an article and demand that you pay or log in to read the rest. It’s no surprise that there’s no way to read these articles that are locked away on servers behind a user ID and password.

So, Why Use Easy-to-Bypass Soft Paywalls?

You might wonder why big sites like theatlantic.com and newyorker.com use soft paywalls when they’re so easily defeated.

The answer is search engines! Hard paywalls block Google from seeing the content, making it harder for people to find the articles. Soft paywalls offer a middle ground – websites can show up in search results while still trying to get paying subscribers.

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Wrap up

So there you have it. Now you can read the athletic’s articles for free without paying. I know its ethically wrong to consume paid content for free but paying for entire month’s fee for a handful of articles feels rip-off. I won’t go more into the ethics of this.

If something doesn’t work for you, you can contact me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.