A conservative media criticism group thinks ESPN, the sports television network, is talking about gay people too much. The Culture and Media Institute, an organization headed by the self-proclaimed "leaders of America's conservative movement," published an article earlier this week saying that ESPN has no business covering the subject of homosexuality. Catherine Maggio writes:
ESPN is supposed to be in the business of sports, but lately the network has allowed social advocacy to creep into its programming, and the Disney-owned sports network's take turns out to be identical to the pro-gay mainstream media.
Apparently sports have turned from national pastimes to the national social arena, and we have ESPN to thank for that.
The rest of Maggio's article goes on to question other ESPN editorial decisions, including coverage of New York Rangers player Sean Avery participating in the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign and articles entitled "It's Time for a Gay All-Star," "Can the NFL Accept Gay Players," and "Sports and Homosexuality Issues Is Not Going Away."
In the past few months, the subject of gays in sports has been an important - and popular - topic. The world of professional athletics has been viewed as one of the last frontiers for mainstream inclusion of the LGBT community. But this summer, the idea that LGBT sports figures can't simultaneously be open about their sexuality and enjoy a successful career has been challenged. And other athletes have lent their voices in support of their teammates.
Rick Welts, president of the Phoenix Suns, came out in May, as did Will Sheridan, who previously played as the forward for the Villanova basketball team. Kyle Allums played basketball at George Washington University as the first transgender man playing for an NCAA's women's team. NFL Hall of Fame star Michael Irvin appeared on the cover of Out magazine to talk about his support for his gay brother. Other athletes have spoken up about the marriage equality debate, and ESPN has covered their statements. The NY Giants, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs have made "It Gets Better" videos.
These stories are about athletes and the world of professional athletics. So why wouldn't ESPN cover them? For Maggio to posit that the sports network has turned into a gay marriage propaganda machine misses the fact that the stories she's taking issue with relate equally to the world of sports and the subject of LGBT issues. Isn't ESPN, the "entertainment and sports programming network," just doing its job?