ESPN has been pioneering media for decades, they were the first 24 hour sports network. Now they’re leading the charge again of so-called sports networks, covering politics instead of actual sports. ESPN has become a political news network who happens to cover sports. The network champions opinions and free speech, as long as they align with their left-wing agenda. Jemele Hill, the co-host of “SportsCenter”, can tweet “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists,” and nothing happens. But former ESPN analyst, Curt Schilling, was fired for tweeting a meme about a new transgender bathroom law. The network explained he “violated their policy prohibiting analysts to discuss politics.”
Fivethirtyeight.com is a website hosted by ESPN. It replaced the ground-breaking Grantland, a collection of innovative features that linked sports and pop culture. Fivethirtyeight does something similar, using analytics to dive deeper into sports and the things that surround them. It also has a politics section which is almost exclusively filled with articles like “Reluctant Trump Voters Are Getting More Reluctant,” and “Is Hillary Clinton Right About Why She Lost?” Every time I turn on ESPN it’s always Stephen A. Smith yelling about how unfairly Colin Kaepernick is treated or how much Lebron James hates Donald Trump. We as sports fans, want to watch programming about sports, not Stephen A. and Max Kellerman doing their best Rachel Maddow impressions.
ESPN is shooting itself in the foot here. Their ratings are tanking, they’ve had to lay off massive amounts of high-profile employees, and their credibility continues to drop thanks to political incidents like the network pulling an announcer from a University of Virginia football game because his name was Robert Lee… like the confederate general *facepalm*. Ironic that just like ESPN’s champion of all that is good and right, Colin Kaepernick’s career continues to die, as does ESPN itself. Politics is an inescapable fact of everyday life, and sadly I think ESPN is somewhat of a precursor to a growing epidemic of politics invading every aspect of our society. Don’t expect this trend to fade anytime soon.