Down
enlarge
The nexus of politics, social media, and sport
0:39 | More Sports
The nexus of politics, social media, and sport
Sunday November 27th, 2016

In 2007 the great writer William Safire, in one of his brilliant “On Language” columns, examined the origins of an expression that is the quintessence of political caution. If you are a fan of politics or political science, you have likely heard of it:

“The third rail.”

It’s a reference to a certain topic (race, social security, Medicare etc. …) that is so charged, the politician who dares to wade into those waters is doomed to get singed or worse. Along these lines, the third rail for the U.S. sports media over the past 12 months has been the presidential election, and social media has been the arena where much of the discourse has been held. In my seven years on Twitter, no topic on my feed has been more charged or produced more anger. For those in sports media who forwarded politically-oriented stories or offered thoughts on candidates—as I did—the discourse was fierce and exhausting. It made discussing NBA or NFL draft picks seemed angelic. It also gave those of us who work in sports pause for what our colleagues in news were facing, including death threats and unfettered messages of racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism.

I’ve long been interested in the topic of whether sports media members should discuss politics publicly, and last May in this column I paneled seven sports media people on whether those in the profession should make their political viewpoints known and how their employers felt about political opinions made public by staffers, among other politically-oriented topics. In addition to the then-upcoming election, one of things that prompted my examination was the social media feed of NBC Sports reporter Michele Tafoya, a high-profile and respected sports television staffer who is very politically oriented. (Tafoya classifies herself publicly as “a pro-choice conservative.”)

When I interviewed her last December, Tafoya said NBC Sports was fine with her political advocacy but they asked her to remove the NBC Sports part from her Twitter handle. She said she had asked her bosses for permission to speak publicly on behalf of certain candidates she favors, as well as to serve on committees promoting certain candidates. It was a professional back and forth that set an example (in my mind) for others in the media. I’m one who fully supports discussing the intersection of sports and politics because whether race, gender, sexuality or class conflict, so much of sports is inherently political. I also think you (and not your employer) own your fundamental thoughts including on social media. In short, there is no escaping the real world in sports, as taxpayer-funded stadiums teach us. I recognize there are many sports media consumers who prefer those worlds not mix.

Sports Illustrated
As with presidential election, sports often prove we don't really know each other

I wanted to do a reset on this topic after the election and one of the first things I did was check in with Tafoya. What I discovered was as a result of the divisive election-year discourse, she is no longer active on Twitter.

As she wrote in an email to me on Friday: “Twitter was enjoyable... for a while. But over time I saw how people baited one another, attacked complete strangers, threw hateful language around and seemed to take glee in belittling people. When some of those hurls were thrown my way, I just decided that Twitter was not the forum for productive discourse, particularly in the current political climate. So I quit. And since then, my life has been much easier and more pleasant. As far as opting back in, I have no intention to do so. My hope is to be influential in other ways. I’m part of a morning radio talk show in the Twin Cities, which allows for more than 140 characters!”

The majority of sports media (keep in mind there are thousands upon thousands of people who fall under the nebulous definition) remain apolitical publicly. But there were many during this election cycle who delved into political talk on their social media channel, and I wanted to see what the experience was like for them. With the goal of providing readers some insight on this topic, I paneled 10 well-known sports media people (I intentionally chose people with a mix of political orthodoxies) for an email roundtable on what their feeds were like during the campaign and following Election Day.

The panel:

Bruce Arthur, sports columnist, Toronto Star.
Tim Brando, national sports broadcaster and commentator, Fox Sports and FS1.
Gerry Callahan, co-host of Kirk and Callahan, WEEI 93.7 FM Boston.
Chad Dukes, host of Chad Dukes Vs. The World”, 106.7 The Fan Washington D.C.
Jemele Hill, co-host of ESPN2’s His and Hers.
Bomani Jones, ESPN Radio host (The Right Time), co-host, ESPN’s Highly Questionable.
Mina Kimes, podcaster and senior writer, ESPN The Magazine.
Jose de Jesus Ortiz, sports columnist, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Sarah Spain, writer and radio host, espnW and ESPN Radio (Izzy & Spain).
Cyd Ziegler, co-founder of Outsports and author of Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes are Claiming their Rightful Place in Sports.

The panel was asked to go as long or as short as they wanted with their answers. I hope you’ll find this enlightening.

How (and why) would you evaluate the tenor of your social media feeds during the U.S. Presidential election?

Arthur: The election overwhelmed the rest of my feed during the election. There were so many daily absurdities from Donald Trump—honestly, in terms of his parallels with Rob Ford, that’s the one that stands out—but underlying it all was the sense that he probably wouldn’t win. There were occasional bouts of panic, a constant low-grade worry, but mostly, an astonishment and mocking of the idea that this was happening at all. I got a lot of feedback from followers, and sure, some were tired of the drumbeat, and occasionally I’d run into legitimate Trump fans, but mostly people just followed along, because it was the dominant subject in the whole Western world, more or less.

Brando: In college sports fans believe their schools and home states represent their way of life. This may run contrary to yours and others along the East and West coasts, but it’s true. [The] “if you aren’t with me you are against me” syndrome exists 24/7. My timeline is full of it all the time. However, the tenor is far more inflammatory than it was two years ago at this time. I’ve always shared my political views in a more measured manner, and that’s likely because I’m more conservative than most in our industry. That said, I’m an open book kinda guy, and have always spoken in absolutes, (a vocational hazard) at times. The idea that all of us in sports should stay in our lane has always rubbed me the wrong way. In the past campaign I supported Marco Rubio initially, and once Trump became the nominee, I naturally admitted I would vote for him. I have many liberal media friends and on many social issues agree with them. The Tip O’Neill/ Ronald Reagan years were far more congenial. Sadly, we can’t seem to listen to one another’s point of views without anger. Add the 140 characters dilemma and we have trouble with a Capital T!

Callahan: Twitter definitely got meaner and more aggressive during the election, but that’s okay. I felt like people were turning to us for a good fight, whether it was on Twitter or on the air. It felt like there was primal instinct that was being satiated during this election, and that’s one of the biggest reasons the NFL ratings took a hit. I mean, the game is still wonderfully intense and violent, but did you see some of those debates? Made those Thursday night games look like the Lingerie Bowl. I think talk radio and Twitter love two sides, black and white, split down the middle, like William Wallace’s guy charging toward Longshanks army. This election was perfect for that. I don’t get why any talk show host—I don’t care if you’re doing a gardening show on Saturday morning—would shy away from that.

Dukes: Overwhelming. There were literally dozens of people I follow for sports/entertainment purposes that were accusing anyone with conservative leanings of really horrendous/inaccurate things. As someone that has both progressive and conservative ideologies, I struggled to continue following many accounts I had previously found entertaining and informative because of the nonstop deluge of anti-Trump propaganda. I understand not liking the guy, but I’m following you for video game reviews, ya know? I’ve never seen anything like it.

Hill: I usually resist making something the worst or best in any given category but this election has stoked some emotions that are disturbing. I won’t sugarcoat it: The tone of our President-elect has absolutely encouraged a sector of people to be more racist, sexist and vile. There always is an understandable tension in any election but this one is different. As someone in the media, I guess I feel less compelled to hide from that. We all know what it is. I feel like I would be insulting everybody’s intelligence to pretend as if things have changed. That doesn’t impact my hopefulness going forward, but I’m not going to gloss over what we’re facing right now.

Jones: I honestly haven’t seen that much of a difference. That said, I’ve been pretty careful this election with what I say because of the rules my employer has on such things. But this election cycle, my mentions weren’t as charged as they were for the year and change after Mike Brown was killed in Ferguson. Then, there were lots of extreme emotions, from grief to hate, with different types of fear—of varying orders of legitimacy—coming from all sides. After the primaries, the election seemed like such a foregone conclusion that there wasn’t a truly palpable polarity. Perhaps there’s a liberal slant to my timeline, but people were much freer in angrily expressing of blanket support for the actions of the police—or even their hatred of Colin Kaepernick—than their willingness to vote for Donald Trump. Either way, it’s not as rancorous on the timeline when many on one side are so concerned with not being publicly identified with their beliefs. In fact, I’d argue the most contentious my feed got about the election was for Clinton vs. Sanders, not the general election.

The actual, factual news of the election was actually the worst part of my feed. There wasn’t much people could say that was more disturbing than what was in the newspaper. I used the hashtag #hurryupnovember most of the year because it got exhausting so early, and it was clear from the jump that it wouldn’t get better. But in this cycle, the people on television regularly said things as crazy as the people in our phones. It’ll be easy for folks to point out crazy on social media, but it was a real I-learned-it-from-watching-you situation in 2016. We, the media, were no better.

Sports Illustrated
Why we can expect increased athlete activism during Donald Trump's presidency

Kimes: I’ve always applied the same test to my feed: What am I trying to accomplish on Twitter, and how can it complement (or detract from) the rest of my work? No one’s following me for straight sports news because it’s not my job to deliver straight sports news; my job is to write and talk about the most interesting stories in sports, stories that often converge with political, cultural, and business news. Take Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest: It’s been one of the most significant stories in the NFL this year—but it’s also a political story, and it’s one that I've felt compelled to comment on in the same way that I feel compelled to comment on the Niners’ disastrous season and Kaep’s fantasy value (surprisingly solid, thanks to his floor as a rusher). Did I tweet about political stories that had nothing to do with sports? Absolutely. But only when I felt I could add some value. I shared articles that I thought my followers might find interesting, and I weighed in on them when I believed I had insights to share. And yet, my feed was still dominated by sports, because that’s where I focus most of my attention and energy these days.

And memes. Lots of memes.

Ortiz: I definitely noticed more people weighing in. I tried to stay away from commenting on politics other than to point out what I viewed as silly or hypocritical statements. I kept my political opinions generally off of my professional Facebook page and my Twitter account, but I was more open on my personal Facebook page. 

Spain: While I don’t hesitate to make my opinions known on issues that really matter to me, I’m usually pretty careful to be respectful and measured when doing so. That’s in part because of ESPN policy and also because I’m of the opinion that mature, civilized conversation is necessary if you actually want to learn and understand—not just scream your side of things. Most of the political conversations I get into on social media revolve around equality and respect for all humans, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, identity or religion. These are clearly hot-button issues for some people, so I get plenty of pushback, often in the form of hate speech, misogyny and death threats. I get a lot of the same when talking about sexism, domestic violence and rape in sports, though, so I don’t think the anger is rooted simply in political leanings, but rather in male-female dynamics.

Zeigler: There were many days during the election when I shut off social media entirely. It became an echo chamber of accusations, misinformation and distaste that resembled a playground entirely full of bullies. I saw a flood of Facebook messages from friends and acquaintances demanding that anyone who disagreed with them on the election unfriend them and block them on the site. How is that productive? Social media during the election made it okay, even preferable, to avoid all debate and discussion and instead simply surround yourself with people who think just like you do. That attitude, seeping through the media and social media in recent years, is partly why the presidential election ended the way it did. That worsening attitude toward disagreement will forever be the most culturally damaging element of the existence of social media.

How, if it all, has your social media feed changed regarding politics since Nov. 9, the day after the election?

Arthur: In the days after the election, it was ... wounded. There were some triumphal Trumpists here and there, but mostly, people were shocked and appalled and so unhappy that they just unplugged rather than face it. Now, it’s coming back ... the daily absurdities, the escalating outrages, the creep of stuff like Betsy DeVos running the education department. The people who were saying, give him a chance seem to have disappeared, and the pushback I get now is mostly from people who don’t follow me. It’s possible people are just used to me by now.

Brando: Since the election the rhetoric in my world has cooled somewhat. I suspect it's because I’m geographically placed where I am, but the trappings of media guilt come my way whenever I voice a sports opinion deemed contrary to my political lean. It’s sad, but for the sake of family, and to some extent the trappings of the career I’m in, I find myself keeping political opinions more to myself, whether it’s consciously or unconsciously it’s an admission. Social networking has many upsides, but I was astounded at the lack of civility from every corner during the election. Twitter’s not what it once was and I’m just beginning to use Instagram. It’s safer, and people engage with a much more hospitable tone. I hope that’s not gonna hit the dark side as quickly as Twitter did. We’re more alike than we are different. Regardless of the elections rhetoric and outcome I truly believe that statement is true.

Callahan: It’s not as mean or intense since the election, but there are still two distinct sides—those who revel in every dumb thing Trump says versus those who are hoping for the best from him while blaming the media for all the troubles in the world. He’s the best thing to happen to talk radio since the O.J. Simpson trial.

Dukes: It feels like those who thought it was a good idea to shame persons that disagreed with them politically during the election by hurling accusations of bigotry, sexism and xenophobia have doubled down. I believe those terms should have more gravity especially when using them to accuse others of hate.

Hill: I made the mistake of thinking that this would be like a normal election and that even if your candidate didn’t win, we would return to some sense of balance. Let me be fair by saying that Donald Trump is not to blame for social media ignorance. He didn’t create trolls. But since his election and throughout his campaign, there is a noticeable uptick in a nasty sense of entitlement and boldness by people who were content to lie in the shadows. Trump also made it much harder for sports journalists like me to stay totally neutral. I’m not going to normalize some of the things he’s said or done, or the people that he’s appointed. Athletes we regularly discuss are being very bold about their opinions, which forces me to have something to say. Either way, I’m going to always respect the office of the President, but unlike the last three or four Presidents I’ve seen ushered into office, there are some things I can’t be neutral on. That part is strange for me. Like a lot of people, I’m learning as I go, and hoping I don’t get fired between here and there.

Jones: Saying I like my orange juice with pulp can turn my mentions into Election Day, so I’m not sure I noticed a real change there. But generally, I think I’ve noticed some tendencies that depend on who’s talking at a given time, how much that person has to lose and what is appropriate for each person’s station in life. The academics I follow are the most foreboding, making comparisons that can be discussed among intellectuals but would have someone in my line of work on the front page of all the blogs (including some that only cover sports when it’s time to waylay the purported liberal elite and political correctness.) Those whose First Amendment rights are unencumbered by their employers—mostly people whose employers are unaware of their accounts—were all over the place. But I must say, even though I follow over 4,000 people of varying stripes, it was still fairly rare to see anyone who expressly supported the President-elect. It’s still a big deal when someone says something as benign as “I voted for the guy who won the election.” That’s especially surprising considering the outright shock from many who lean or more toward left. I’d expect more countervailing emotions, given that this has been termed a populist revolution. And I don’t think that’s a reflection of some liberal echo chamber. There wasn’t even much from people I know to be conservative and, while not necessarily extroverts, also aren’t shrinking violets.

November 8th was a flashpoint in American history, and few are silent during those times. But I honestly haven’t looked at the timeline and thought “man, things have gotten really crazy.” Neither side of this election seemed to realistically think Donald Trump would be elected. I’m not sure most people have any idea what’s going to happen from there, and it’s such a huge level of uncertainty for most that it almost feels like the eye of the storm. It’s a calm that can’t last for long. Those who want to stick to sports are having a harder time doing so because there are no walks of American life where Donald Trump’s name doesn’t matter and doesn’t make money for media. We’re all in this, and it won’t be long before everyone has something to say, when few will find silence defensible.

Extra Mustard
The best Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump anecdotes from the SI Vault

Kimes: I’ve tried to get better at avoiding pointless conflict. While I still wade into debates on Twitter—and occasionally push back on others’ insults, especially if there’s a good joke to be made—I’ve found that the level of rancor has increased so much, it’s often not worth my time to clap back. Engaging with angry people can be emotionally taxing. I’ve also tried to think harder about the stories I tweet and how I represent them. Headlines, sourcing, phrasing—it all matters, more than any of us knew before this year. The media’s impact on the election is still being sorted out, but I know I’ll be thinking through these issues a lot.

Ortiz: I must admit that I’ve been more willing to weigh in on my professional Twitter page since the election. There are some things that I think we must all stand against. For instance, I know I’ve tweeted in opposition of the suggestion by some Trump supporters that Muslims should be registered. As a person of color it would be irresponsible to remain silent on some of the hate speech that has grown since the election. For instance, I pointed out that we all lose if folks on CNN have to debate whether Donald Trump must denounce those who wonder if Jews are human beings. 

Spain: I left for my honeymoon the day after the election which as it turned out was impeccable timing. My deep disappointment in the results of the election made maintaining that aforementioned balance of passion and restraint incredibly difficult. Taking a few weeks to process was necessary. I happened to hear about the book Men Explain Things To Me a few months ago and had coincidentally packed it to read on my flight. It’s a few years old but the topics—the silencing of women, the abuse of power by high-ranking men, the root causes of backlash to marriage equality and society’s refusal to give credibility to female voices—are incredibly timely in light of the issues that plagued Donald Trump’s campaign. Reading the book sort of reinvigorated me when I was feeling hopeless. Being reminded of the fight women have had and will continue to have sent me back to the states feeling a bit fiery. I’ve already been quite outspoken about abuse on social media, and I’ll continue to push back against misogyny, homophobia and racism. That being said, it’s more important than ever to demand reasoned debate, respectful conversation and an open mind to other cultures and people. While it’s hard sometimes to go high when they go low, it’s imperative to not get sucked into the hateful rhetoric and divisiveness that dominated the election.

Zeigler: The morning of Election Day I posted this on Facebook: “The other feeling I have today is an overwhelming hope that, as people have shared, this IS the end of the election. Whatever happens tonight, we ALL lose if the tone of the last year continues into tomorrow. If we keep pointing fingers at everyone else, calling each other names, refusing to listen to one another and understanding each other's perspective, then the division of this election cycle will never end.” Well, we all lost. Not because of who won the election, but because we have not put the mean-spirited, bullying nature of so much of the election’s discourse behind us. People on my social media feeds refuse to try to heal the country’s internal wounds. Is there cause for concern? Of course. Attacking and belittling one another, and fear-mongering to the point where people have contemplated suicide over the election results, doesn’t help any of it. The tenor of my social media feeds has gotten so much worse since the election, and I continue to shut it all off on a regular basis. We have all lost because of it.

THE NOISE REPORT

(SI.com examines some of the week’s most notable sports media stories)

1. I’ve written stories in the past about the impact of the Dallas Cowboys when it comes to NFL television rightsholders. On that note, here’s a chart of the most watched NFL games in 2016:

1. Dallas-Washington (Fox): 35.1 million viewers
2. Dallas-Pittsburgh (Fox): 28.9M
3. Dallas-Green Bay (Fox): 28.0M
4. Detroit-Minnesota (CBS): 27.6M
5. Dallas-New York Giants (Fox): 27.5M

See a trend?

1a. The CBS Thanksgiving Day broadcast of Minnesota-Detroit was CBS’s most-watched NFL regular-season broadcast this season and overall most-watched for CBS since last year’s Thanksgiving Day game (Carolina-Dallas: 32.5 million).

1b. Fox’s top NFL director (Rich Russo) and producer (Richie Zyontz) rarely do Browns games but the two were on the production for Sunday’s Giants-Browns game. Zyontz said he had done just two Cleveland games since 1980 prior to Sunday including Week 4 of the 1981 season as a member of CBS featuring Vin Scully and John Madden calling Browns-Falcons. Yes, that Vin Scully.

2. "Hit! Right at the marker! Spot will decide it."

That was the call of ESPN college football announcer Chris Fowler on what turned out to be the signature moment of Ohio State’s 30–27 double overtime win over Michigan—OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett’s first-down run on fourth-and-1 from the Michigan 16 in double overtime. After the production truck showed a replay, Fowler did not hesitate and said Barrett had crossed the first down line. After rules analyst Dave Cutaia explained why the call would not be overturned—and the officials on the field confirmed—Fowler again was definitive. “Which I agree with,” Fowler said of the officials’ call. “Very, very difficult to overturn a spot, especially in a spot like this.”

Fowler gets criticized by some college football fans for not having the big-game voice of a Keith Jackson or Verne Lundquist but this sequence was an example of a sharp announcer unafraid to veer into opinion during a controversial moment. “I thought Chris called an unbelievable game and that as a monstrous game heading in as far as PR and everything else,” said Bill Bonnell, who produced the Michigan-Ohio State game for ESPN/ABC and is the network’s longtime executive producer of its Saturday night primetime package as well as the national title game. “I thought he lived up to the moment. He also tells it like it is on air. He will not be wishy washy about things.”

2a. On Sunday, I spoke to Bonnell about a number of topics I found interesting regarding Ohio State-Michigan. As most of you noted, there was not a definitive replay on the fourth-and-1 play to the point where viewers could be 100% sure of the spot. “It’s a difficult situation because on a fourth down situation things can get packed up in the middle,” said Bonnell.

“The closest definitive replay was the one we showed. That’s was from our ‘blue machine’ or the game camera which is shooting where the yellow line is. That mixed with the other angles, that was as definitive as we could get.”

Bonnell said that remote productions in college football always opt to keep additional cameras deployed on the goal line given the importance of that line. There would not be similar coverage, say, on the 16-yard line. “Sometimes it’s just the way it happens; it’s a tough situation to cover,” Bonnell said.

College Football
Moments of lore: Four scenes that defined Ohio State's epic win over Michigan

2b. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh made it clear to the ESPN production group meeting last Wednesday that he was limiting his access on game day. “He made it very, very, very clear to us on Wednesday that the only time he would talk to us was at halftime going off the field,” Bonnell said. “We respected that. At the end of the game if you look at the tape, he was being escorted off by state troopers and his SID Dave Ablauf off the field. When I saw that he going to the locker room, we know he’d have a press conference and we could get whatever we needed from him there. So Tim Rinaldi got J.T. Barrett and Sam Ponder got Urban [Meyer].”

Harbaugh was not on camera for the halftime interview (as per Harbaugh) and Rinaldi had to run up a tunnel to get him. Bonnell said Harbaugh told the group that his reasoning for not making himself available is that he did not want anything to distract him from the game.

2c. The Michigan-Ohio State game drew 16.64 million viewers on ABC, making it the most-watched college football game this season across all networks. The previous high was Notre Dame-Texas on Sept. 4 (10.7 million viewers).

ESPN said it was ABC’s most-watched game in more than 10 years when the network aired the 2006 Michigan-Ohio State game, the most-watched regular season game the network has ever televised (21,037,000 viewers).

2d. The top-rated TV markets for Ohio State-Michigan:

1. Columbus
2. Dayton
3. Detroit
4. Cleveland
5. Cincinnati
6. Ft. Myers
7. Birmingham
8. Oklahoma City
9. Knoxville

The local rating in Detroit (30.8) was the second highest ever for a regular season college football game on any ESPN network.

2e. Joe Namath (and his fur coat) dropped by the SEC on CBS booth this Saturday.

3. Episode 90 of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features Cubs radio broadcaster Pat Hughes and Gary Cohen, the TV play by play voice for the Mets on SportsNet New York (SNY).

Hughes has been the radio voice of the Cubs for 21 years. Prior to that, he spent 12 years working with Bob Uecker on Brewers broadcasts. Cohen has been a Mets broadcaster since 1989 including working on the radio side until 2006. Both broadcasters—who were interviewed separately—are finalists for the 2017 Ford Frick Award, the highest honor a baseball broadcaster can achieve.

In this podcast, Hughes discusses how he handled the final moments of the Cubs’ historic World Series win; whether a World Series title changes listeners’ perception of him; the differences in announcing for a good or bad team; what the immediate aftermath was like following the Cubs’ win; his passion for making audio tapes of some of baseball’s greatest announcers; and much more.

Cohen discusses how his job has changed since the 1990s; the use of sabermetrics in a TV broadcast; who evaluates his work and why that is important; how age has impacted, if at all, his broadcasting; the switch from radio to TV; how to navigate between wanting your team to do well but not being a homer; his favorite Keith Hernandez story; calling games for Columbia University’s WKCR as a college student with a soccer analyst named George Stephanopoulos; and much more.

A reminder: You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher.

3a. Episode 89 of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features Paul Finebaum, who hosts The Paul Finebaum Show, which airs on ESPN Radio and is simulcast on the SEC Network. Finebaum is also part of the SEC Network’s SEC Nation and regularly appears on ESPN.

In this podcast, we discuss how Finebaum’s relationship with Alabama coach Nick Saban and what happened at SEC Media Day when the two got into a heated discussion; how he prepares for his show, especially when college football is not in regular season; how to take a regional show and make it popular nationally; what he thinks of Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow as analysts; what his relationship is with some of his well-known callers (e.g. Phyllis from Mulga, Ala., Jim from Tuscaloosa); what finding success later in his professional life meant for him; how he thought his professional career had stalled before The New Yorker profiled him; his advice for young people who do not consider themselves TV people and much more.

4. Non-sports media pieces of note:

• The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald had a brilliant takedown of television news media stars abdicating their journalism roles.

The Guardian’s Chris Arnade on McDonald’s as social centers.

The Washington Post’s Terrence McCoy, on pair of opportunists who are making big bucks off vitriol, division and conspiracy.

• America now incarcerates eight times as many women as in 1980, via Nick Kristoff.

• From The New York Times: Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This Is All About Income.’

• From Eli Saslow of The Washington Post: What happens to the toddler whose parents killed 14 people?

• Via Mohamad Ajooz, a refugee from Aleppo.

The Miami Herald’s Fidel Castro obituary, the definitive piece on Castro from over the weekend.

• From CJR’s Nicholas Dawes: A letter to friends in American journalism about things we’ve learned in Big Man systems.

• ‘None of the old rules apply’: Dave Eggers travels through post-election America.

• Via NYT: Why I Left White Nationalism.

• From The Los Angeles Times: Lee Harvey Oswald’s little green book shows JFK wasn’t the real target.

• From James Fallows: China’s Great Leap Backward.

• Via The National Review: On Ryanism and Trumpism.

• Former Secret Service agent Clint Hill, on his memories of JFK’s funeral.

• Via Buzzfeed: How the 2016 election blew up in Facebook’s face.

• Steven LeBron (pen name), on divorce and coming home.

4a. Sports pieces of note:

• From SI’s Jon Wertheim: With the 428th pick in the 1974 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected... one of the most violent killers in U.S. history.

• Via Lars Anderson of Bleacher Report: On Philip Lutzenkirchen, his final hours, his father and his legacy.

• From Jessica Luther: Time for football coaches to wield their influence for change.

Miami Herald sports columnist Armando Salguero on Colin Kaepernick and Fidel Castro.

The Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger ‏on how the Royals gave Caleb Schwab’s family their best day since their worst day.

• From ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Koentges: Robert Gagno is a pinball savant.

• From Esquire’s Eric Lewis: Why didn’t anyone stop the head football coach—a serial pedophile—at an elite prep school?

• Marc Tracy profiles former Ohio State football coach and current Youngstown State president Jim Tressel. 

5. Sports media opting out of Twitter does not surprise me. While not a reaction to overheated political dialogue, I heard from multiple colleagues this week who said this piece had given then pause on their social media consumption. On this end, I’ve had more than a few friends in the sports media who expect significant threats, from readers and beyond, if they continue to be active politically.

5a. Writer James Mirtle has left the Globe and Mail (Toronto) to become the editor-in-chief with TheAthleticTO, a new startup site in Toronto. He joins a staff that includes Sean FitzGerald and other talented reporters. Best of luck to them, and if interested in Toronto sports, check out their site here.

5b. NBC and NBCSN will air 53 hours of U.S. skiing and snowboarding coverage in 2016 and ‘17, plus an additional 33 hours of digital coverage on NBCSports.com. NBC alone will broadcast 20 hours of USSA coverage this season, the most ever for the network, and the largest ski and snowboarding coverage in American ski and snowboarding event history.

5c. The HBO documentary on the Boston Marathon bombing is an extremely powerful viewing experience. Highest recommendation.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.