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Culture wars at ESPN? Maybe there's more to these tensions than mere politics

Culture wars at ESPN? Maybe there's more to these tensions than mere politics

If you run a search of the GetReligion site for "ESPN" you will, for the most part, find exactly what you would expect: A long list of stories about athletes -- famous and obscure -- that contain little or nothing about the role that faith plays in their lives, even if it's easy to read between the lines and spot the religion ghosts.

You can spend quite a bit of time simply reading about the Bible, the National Basketball Association and superstar Stephen Curry's inspirational sneakers.

But now there is something different to talk about. What we have here is a sort of think piece thing about ESPN and politics that is actually making news in some corners of the World Wide Web.

The big question is whether this story is really about "politics" or, well, you know what.

What we're dealing with here is a remarkable letter to readers and viewers from the pilots who steer the mass-media giant that ESPN insiders have long called "The Mother Ship." In other words, we're talking about a content issue on the prime ESPN channels, in the core shows and public projects that for a few decades now have helped drive the direction of how Americans interact with sports.

The headline on the piece by public editor Jim Brady states: "Inside and out, ESPN dealing with changing political dynamics."

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start:

The 2016 presidential election season has been one most of us will never forget. The tone has been ugly, the controversies endless, the coverage unrelenting. Our social media feeds are full of politically charged statements, and what dialogue does exist between differing sides more often resembles a WWE match than nuanced debate.
Thankfully, I get to write about ESPN, where the focus on sports means I never have to deal with politics.
Ah, if only that were true.

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