The Ringer: The End of “Stick to Sports”

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

37 Responses

  1. Stillwater says:

    These days, when a Republican politician does something obnoxious or destructive, we expect them to be met by an advance guard of sportswriters

    I don’t think it’s “partisan” in the non-post-modern sense of that word (in the PM sense the word doesn’t even have a semantic value…) but maybe I’m wrong: “partisan” may mean “disagreeing with something a Republican politician does”.

    See? Perfectly objective!!

    Damn liberal media…Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    To what extent is remaining silent an act of tacit approval of what Trump is doing?

    Do you really want to support a celebrity, product, or service that tacitly approves of Trump?

    Boycott Kool-Aid until they chime in against the travel ban!Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

      “To what extent is remaining silent an act of tacit approval of what Trump is doing?”
      It isn’t.

      “Do you really want to support a celebrity, product, or service that tacitly approves of Trump?”
      I wouldn’t perceive celebrities, products, or services to tacitly approve Trump because they were silent.

      “Boycott Kool-Aid until they chime in against the travel ban!”
      You are literally the only person I’ve seen take this position.Report

      • Mo in reply to Kazzy says:

        It’s winter, that strawman isn’t going to burn on its own.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Mo says:

          When the argument is being made, it becomes a manman.Report

          • Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

            Jay’s right. I’ve seen a lot of this.Report

            • switters in reply to Pinky says:

              Sounds like a simple extension of a dumb argument that posited some Democrats weren’t sufficiently patriotic as evidenced by their failure to wear an american flag pin. Good thing no one ever made that argument.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

            Who called a boycott?Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

              The most recent one was the #DeleteUber campaign.

              There’s an article about the whole “Political Silence” thing here:

              The #DeleteUber campaign is an early test case of how companies will maintain consumer loyalty during a period of left-wing activism that has drawn millions of people into the streets. It’s not surprising that Uber, with its ruthless reputation, is the first target. But as resistance to Trump builds over issued like LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections and the Paris Climate Agreement, more traditional companies may find customers frustrated with their silence on political issues.


              • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Taylor Swift owns Uber?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                Have you recently consumed Kool-Aid?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                No. Why? What’s that got to do with anything?

                You mentioned calls for boycotts.
                I asked who’s calling for boycotts.
                You link to an article about criticism of Taylor Swift remaining mum.
                I point out no one called for a boycott of Swift.
                You point out #deleteUber.

                I can discuss why #deleteUber also fails to justify your point but I’m not going to keep responding to the spaghetti your flinging at the wall. Acknowledge Swift was a bad datapoint that does nor support your initial claim and then I’ll re-engage.Report

  3. Jesse says:

    If athletes and coaches (such as Pop, Kerr, SVG, and numerous players) aren’t “sticking to sports”, why should journalists? Anybody pissed off enough about their sportswriter opinion would likely have already stopped watching a while ago.

    I mean, there was a lot of talk about NFL ratings dropping, but that stopped once the Cowboys were back on TV. Almost like it was bad games or teams nobody cared about causing the issue, not old white dudes running away because Colin Kapernick kneeled during the anthem.Report

    • Jesse in reply to Jesse says:

      Also, what’s considered “political?”

      For instance, I’m 100% convince that almost all the people whoo respond to sportswriters talking about Trump being terrible would and have reacted just as negatively when female sportswriters do such horribly political things as bringing up the abuse they get hurled at them online or the sexist words and actions of various sports stars.

      So, should those female sportswriters or anchors just “stick to sports?”Report

  4. Aaron David says:

    If they want to get all political, then they should get all political. Left or right, if people like it, they will keep going with it. If they don’t… /shrug

    Hasn’t seemed to hurt actors, far as I know.Report

  5. Damon says:

    I’m sure that sports writers dipping their toes into politics will only have a positive response from their readership, none of who support Trump and share his views. Not only that, it will probably result in massive increases in readership and viewers.


    • PD Shaw in reply to Damon says:

      I think the dynamic is broader than treading into partisan cross-fire. I think there is a widely held desire for politics-free safe-zones. The sports blog I frequent has had a no politics rule in the comments for ten years or so, maintained through changes in personnel and enforced by a group of frequent commenters with the power of deletion. The blog gets about 100 comments a day off-season and 300 during season, so its seems successful and I don’t know whether no- politics is a carrot (provides a more attractive environment to join) or a stick (prevents partisan divisions that splinter the sense of community)Report

      • Damon in reply to PD Shaw says:


        I’m no sports fan, but when I do go to places to check sports things, I don’t want to listen/see politics. I want the sports info. If I want politics, I’ll listen to NPR in the car on the way home.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to PD Shaw says:

        I find this is true for a lot of hobby type websites, even some that you would think would have a political bias, such as a shooting sports site. And a lot of people like that. I spend zero time on any sports sites, blog or forum, but the sites I do habituate tend to be very strict about this. If I am reading about band saw blades, I don’t want someones critic of politician X. If I want that I will go here, where the dialog supports discussion in that area. My wife, very liberal, is the same way. When she goes to a gardening site, she will leave immediately if politics becomes part of it.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:

          I think it depends.

          If you are writing a game summary, I struggle to see a reason to include a shot at Trump or Clinton or whomever in that. Even if they were at the game. If your job is to breakdown the Xs-and-Os of a particular event, that should probably be politics free.

          If you are writing a profile of Derrick Rose circa 2014/15, you’d probably need to mention his decision to wear an “I Can’t Breath” t-shirt during warmups.

          And if you are Zach Lowe with his family’s connection to immigration — past and present — and you have a pretty wide open forum for discussing what comes to mind, I don’t see why those reigns should suddenly tighten when politics intersects with his personal.Report

          • Aaron David in reply to Kazzy says:

            Well, from my point of view, it depends on if you move from relaying facts, on the one hand, to opinion based journalism on the other. Relating what happened, especially in some type of retrospective, versus some sort of And then He did This, and I went F Yeah! Burn Those [politcal view X] Mothers! And yes, it is often a very fine line. As I said above, of course they can do it, and it may not affect them in any real way. But, many people will tune out, such as my wife.

            Again, its not that the reins should tighten simply because its sports (or anything else.) It simply that many others don’t look to that person for that information, might not agree with them and leave the site, never to comeback.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:


              And, if we’re paying attention, we look to different sources for different purposes.

              If the “NBA Standings” page included, “Trump 1, Hillary 0” I’d be all WTF? And not because I voted for Hillary but because that is one of the last things I expect to see there. There are actually writers I seek out when I want to get a sense of some of the social/political stuff because they’ve staked out that ground and shown themselves (to me, at least) to be worth reading.

              The ESPN Ombudsman has tackled this topic a few times and is a worthwhile read if just to better understand some of the thinking that goes into making the decisions as to who says what, where, and when.

              You also have sports stories that are inherently political, such as the issue of gender testing at the Olympics.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Aaron David says:

              I think you’re onto something. Sports journalism is different than most other kinds. I’m not sure about this – my thoughts about the divisions of journalism are muddy right now – but I think that sports journalism tends to obey the separation of fact (play-by-play), analysis (color commentary), and opinion (typically fan-type coverage found in local media). Sports opinion is supposed to be passionate. When sports columnists foray into politics, they usually keep that “my side is right and yours is wrong” approach. Like I said, though, I’m not sure where to go with this.Report

          • PD Shaw in reply to Kazzy says:

            I believe most fan sports websites that are geared towards daily viewing follow the daily news cycle with the focus on their team and/or sport. They don’t frequently do big-picture discussions of a player or any topic. Events do happen that get covered, a player is charged with domestic battery, or fails a drug test. But even then I don’t think these are political topics, or that any ensuring discussion is necessarily inclined to go that direction. There are specific sports questions about what leagues can or should do about misconduct, or allegations of misconduct.Report

        • PD Shaw in reply to Aaron David says:

          I assumed that this was probably true outside of sports, but this is the only non-political website I view daily. My wife has indicated that she finds politics intolerable right now, so she’s basically tuning out of all things political. I wonder if there will be increasing bifurcation btw/ the political world and the nonpolitical world.Report

        • fillyjonk in reply to Aaron David says:

          I moderate a couple discussion boards on a hobbyist website. One (“A”) permits political discussion but it is very one-sided; that may be a mark of the make-up of the discussion board or it may be dissenting voices are concerned about disapproval and shunning*. The other board (“B”), anything political is immediately moved to ANOTHER board that is explicitly for “controversial” and non-hobby related discussions. (Interestingly: THAT board is more open to dissenting opinions and trying to find common ground than the Board “A” is.

          But yeah. I kind of prefer some kind of an escape from politics some times and for people to say “Oh, but now it’s got so deadly serious that we HAVE to talk politics in what was a non-politics space” makes me roll my eyes.

          (*The membership is mostly women, and ain’t NO ONE can shun like women can shun, in my experience.)Report

          • Will Truman in reply to fillyjonk says:

            My alma mater has two message board sites. Without strict enforcement, politics really did have a tendency to suck the air out of the room. One of them created a separate board for political discussions, which helped by allowing everyone to say “Take it over there.” That wasn’t really a solution for the other one, which has simply lead to a lot of impromptu enforcement (along with “take it to The Other Site”).

            Not coincidentally, most of the calls against politics discussion are from folks on the left, who are a minority in both places. There seem to be basically two axes that dictate how people will respond. The first is how much they care about politics. The second is how much the general political assumptions are likely to be in their favor.

            And a lot of it does come down to assumptions. It’s not so much that people come out of nowhere and say “Hey, liberals are ruining everything” or “Republicans are morons” but rather stray comments made with the assumption that people will agree with the crack about libs or Republicans or whatever. Somebody doesn’t, and political arguments ensue. When a particular venue leans to the left, or leans to the right, one side or the other becomes acutely aware of where the conversation is likely to go and they tend to object to it the most.

            But it goes back to the assumptions. It’s safe for some people to assume that veering into politics is likely to tend towards a particular side’s set of assumptions. No great surprise, that’s the side that sees no problem with throwing politics into everything. And that’s an advantage that the center-left and vague-left generally has at that point*. They can operate with assumptions that it is safely assumed most people hold, Trying to set up an alternative mix of politics and whatever has to be made more explicit, which is in turn off-putting to everybody who doesn’t share those assumptions.

            * – To be clear, it is at least partially – maybe mostly – an earned advantage. It is at least partly a bed the other side made.Report

  6. Kim says:

    Wait, you managed this whole thing and didn’t talk about the blowhard once?
    (Yes, he doesn’t realize this is insulting. Too much ego.)Report

  7. DensityDuck says:

    I guess it’s understandable why an article at The Ringer didn’t bring up Keith Olbermann.Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    Related Post Roulette brought me here.

    It’s been a couple of years and some change and now there are news stories about how ESPN is dropping political coverage.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      One thing that I realize never occurred to me: Did they have any shows that were fundamentally conservative/Republican/reactionary?

      I realize that I assumed that the two options were “talk about politics from the POV of Olbermann” versus “not talking about politics”.

      I now realize that there was, in theory, a third option.Report