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Political/social commentary by sports journalists

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by checkswinger, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. checkswinger

    checkswinger Member

    I've noticed a tendency among many sports journalists to opine on politically and/or socially charged topics, particularly on Twitter. I don't get it, especially for those of us who are more tethered to the concept of not alienating readers than perhaps our independent blogging brethren.

    Unless you're a columnist who is examining a sports issue that crosses over into the realm of politics or social issues, I don't see what can possibly be gained from it. We're supposed to be building up our online audience, because it seems to me this Internet thing just might stick.

    Besides, who should give a flip what a sports journalist thinks about health care or gay marriage or anything else outside our realm of supposed expertise?
  2. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    I am a sports journalist, so I am not allowed to express my opinion.

    Sounds UnAmerican to me! ;)
  3. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    The danger, of course, is that someone reading will say: "I hope they know more about sports than they do about politics."
  4. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    OK, that brought a chuckle.
  5. FleetFeet

    FleetFeet Member

    While it's risky, I think the effort to weigh in on political and social issues outside the scope of sports coverage because the sports writer is (or should be, anyway) a part of the readers' lives. He or she is a known figure, and in today's society people of one subject area area asked to weigh in on just about everything.

    Who really cares which team President Obama backs to win the NCAA title? Some sports nuts, for sure, as the latter will respond whether they feel Obama is right or whether Obama should weigh in at all. The subject matter gets the juices flowing - and just as likely could work to broaden readership instead of deflect it.

    How many celebrities from different worlds (sports, Hollywood, etc.) were asked to weigh in on the Royal Wedding - and the apparent abundance of media coverage afforded the event? Lots.

    Charles Barkley weighs in on just about everything - and many sports pages (or sites) print what he says. Why? He's Charles Barkley. His opinion on the issue won't change a thing, but it sure gets people talking.
  6. UPChip

    UPChip Well-Known Member

    The problem is that the two subjects get closer and closer by the day. I had a colleague rip our Congressman in print for choosing to not support a scholarship program that keeps an Olympic Training Center open in our district. He got excoriated by a handful of idiot readers because he dared to think such a thing as worthy government spending existed.

    I try to avoid it. Lord knows I have lots of political opinions, but is it worth it?
  7. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    And I say that on this board. Quite a bit.
  8. FleetFeet

    FleetFeet Member

    In so much as I believe healthy dialogue is a good thing, especially in our business, I'd say yes, it's worth it. Someone calls and complains (or emails or whatever) - guess what? Chances are they read it (kills me when, after 15 minutes on the phone, they acknowledge they actually didn't read it but are going by what their friend told them).
  9. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    Damn those liberal-biased sports reports!
  10. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    You mean like The Dwarf getting taken to task for his crusade over Michigan film tax credits?
  11. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    And here lay one primary reason the NYDN blocks all reader comments of Lupica pieces . . . in large
    part because Loopy follows the liberal line on social issues, and a bloc of his readership can't stand it.
  12. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    As long as a large percentage of U.S. sports is financed by taxpayer support, and it is, then sports commentators are of necessity going to occasionally comment on political matters. See first example on this thread. The usual rules apply. Opinions should be bolstered by supporting evidence, preferably real facts, hysteria and invective avoided, and in this area above all, nobody should take a stand just to get a rise out of the public. That's really wrong. If readers don't like a commentator's sincere opinion, tough shit. That's never a reason to shut up.
    But, I don't want to read Mike Lupica or anybody else going on about gay marriage or the Afghan War or monetary policy on the sports page. Go write something in the op-ed section. That's what it's for.
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