Bryan Curtis wrote about how sportswriting has become a liberal profession for The Ringer. The piece raised some interesting issues for discussion. Here are five thoughts.
This isn’t necessarily a “woke” white sportswriters thing.
A major difference between sports media now and 30 years ago is that there’s a greater diversity of opinion. Black, Hispanic, Women, LGBTQ, and other voices are in media, in an opinion-driving capacity. They prod blind spots and pierce bubbles, asking questions others didn’t. Some of them have been doing so for years. Why did The National not think to challenge the NCAA? A large part of that is writers and editors for The National had far more in common with those administrating and coaching sports than those playing it. As we saw with the Grantland/Transgender controversy, having different voices in the room (even if still too few) can change perspectives.
The sports media will skew liberal because of demographics.
The people who enter the sports media are not the same as the public at large. Media members, for the most part, have college degrees. Many come from comfortable backgrounds. It’s a lot easier to enter a fickle, non-lucrative profession when you don’t have six-figures worth of college debt. People who take a lower-paying job because of their belief in the value of the work tend to share a similar worldview. This doesn’t mean the sports media is rife with Bolshevik revolutionaries. But, all those factors correlate with a higher percentage of people being alarmed about Trump. All anyone talks about is politics. The job of being in the sports media is having opinions. Is it an active strategy or just showing through?
The sports media will skew liberal because of location.
Look at where a lot of the sports media is located. Professional teams are in major cities. National outlets are located in the largest of the most major cities along the costs, specifically in New York and Los Angeles. A significant portion live of have lived in the same few leafy blocks in Brooklyn. These are some of the most hyper-liberal places in the country. The audience is more disparate. In sports, such as college football or NASCAR, where there isn’t that geographic factor, the composition of the media covering may not be as liberal.
Twitter does not encapsulate life.
Twitter condenses and polarizes political views. Twitter primes immediate and emotive reactions. Twitter also distorts the picture of reality greatly. There is an activist in-group in the sports media that is loud, fervent, and ever-present on Twitter. That doesn’t mean that group represents the industry writ large. They may intimidate conservatives from speaking out. They also intimidate many moderates who want to obtain information, share content, and not engage on issues of social justice. Sports media Twitter is quite liberal. That doesn’t mean sports media is.
Politics is shifting, and everything is political.
Society has become polarized. The Internet affords no room for nuance. Almost any decision one makes has become political. What “liberal” means is shifting. Things that were not political now are. Engaging with an objective reality and established facts, inherent to the practice of journalism, has become a partisan issue. The President of the United States literally declared war on the media. How could the media not be more political?