Wednesday Hot Topic: Stick to Sports?

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail


Sean Fitz-Gerald of The Athletic has a great article about the differences between TSN and Sportsnet when it comes to talking politics. He quotes execs from both networks, and the contrast boils down to this:


  1. Sportsnet allows their personalities to talk politics on air and on social media
  2. TSN doesn’t


There is a little more nuance to the policies. TSN doesn’t want their talent to be the story, but will certainly cover political issues when they see fit. By contrast, Sportsnet has no objection to their talent using their platforms to espouse personal opinions. A clear example of this was when Jamie Campbell became the story during the playoffs by publicly denouncing use of the Cleveland Indians name. He was praised by Sportsnet for taking that stance though it is worth pointing out that the network didn’t go so far as to ban the name.


Every time we discuss these issues I like to point of the Goddard counter-example. I don’t know all the facts regarding his dismissal however we do know that his tweet in defense of traditional marriage was a catalyst. This would suggest that Sportsnet’s policy is not exactly carte blanche. So there is some risk in taking unpopular political stances. I wrote at length about the Goddard case here.


When it comes to TSN, they have allowed Bruce Arthur to use his affiliation with the network to discuss the issue of athletes refusing to visit  the White House under Trump. So their policy seems to have some flexibility as well. However this may be the exception that proves the rule. For example, how many TSN personalities have made public statements about the ongoing CHL lawsuit? Rick Westhead is all over this story (crickets from SN as far as I can tell) but what do McKenzie or Duthie or Dreger or other major faces think? I don’t know.


Final thought: The Athletic are proving their value as an independent voice. Who else was going to write this piece? The papers barely care about sports media issues. While we here at TSM are read by everyone in the industry, most of the bigwigs refuse to take my calls or answer my emails. If there is communication, it is a one-way street.  I won’t speak for Jonah, however I find this more than slightly hypocritical. I won’t press the issue here. Anyway, here’s hoping The Athletic keep writing these kinds of pieces. Great job by Sean.


Over to you: what do you think about the different editorial policies?




thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

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