Photographer doesn't work for free for said outlet - outlet has no images coming in free, how do they obtain them? They buy from their usual image servers and pay for them (photographer or agency), so really someone is not getting paid because of it. It's the old argument if nobody works for free they have to start paying, problem is of course you will never get everyone to stop working for free - there are WAY too many people who do it for ego to see their name in print instead of trying to practice good business.
Choice, there is always a choice! I shot a game tonight with a bunch of guys shooting free, two of these idiots have cost me somewhere around a grand so far this year giving stuff away to clients I work with, or undercutting taking jobs that they came running in last second to do it free. Both use the same tired argument of getting their name out there - success, they're names are on several editors "DO NOT WORK WITH" list including ours. It all comes back to the same thing, good vs bad business practices.
Don't think it matters one bit on your location, if the local team won't work with you because they have a different set up or you cost too much then you go to the next and the next, you hear no a lot more than you hear yes no matter how established you are. Can't get into that league, OK what else is out there, move on and find a niche while pushing for what you want without hurting your name or the business. Sometimes of course you have to start at the lowest rung and climb your way up, just like most industries, photographers though always seem to think they bought a camera, had kinko's make a card, so they should be getting into all the events the pros shoot.
So yea, there's always a choice, it may not be the choice you want to make - it seems many think youth and high school sports are below them, but you pay your dues or find your own clients without snaking your way in. Doesn't mean you don't try to land clients who already have photographers, competition is not a bad thing, but you do it in a manner that is at the least professional.
All of this is much easier said than done.