Kate Fagan has declined a contract extension at ESPN and is leaving the company at the end of the year, The Washington Posts reports. Fagan joined ESPN in 2012 and penned features in addition to appearing on Around The Horn and Outside The Lines. She’s guest-hosted for Bob Ley, who is on sabbatical.
“To continue at ESPN I would have to be immersed in the day-to-day in sports,” Fagan said. “And I found myself more and more interested in other aspects of sports — like how it connects to our culture. That was not going to be the big business of ESPN.”
“I think I thought at one point that I wanted to do a show — and could do a show — that made women’s sports really cool,” she said. “I thought there could be a show on some of the tangential topics — LGBT issues and mental health. Five years ago I thought I could host a show that introduces new female characters to the women’s sports world. This isn’t ESPN’s fault, but I’m not that naive now.”
“I still think ESPN cares about those important stories, regardless of whatever slight shift there is,” Fagan added.
Fagan is developing a show with Embassy Row and working on a script for a television series, according to the Post. Her departure comes not long after Jemele Hill opted to join The Atlantic.
Her position as one of ESPN’s talent to dive into issues of culture and identity opens up the door to questions about the network’s commitment to journalism in those arenas, even if Fagan is on record saying they still care.
My two cents is that those interested in the non-sports parts of covering sports would be drawn to telling interesting stories using those insights, wherever that may be. It’s silly to think that sports pundits are only concerned with box scores and not telling the most compelling version. Smart, talented people getting to stretch their creative muscles is a good thing for consumers.