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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Agree or disagree? Reaction from readers

By Robert Lipsyte
ESPN Ombudsman

The response to my most recent column about ESPN’s coverage of such topics as the N-word, gay players, bullying and concussions -- topics some fans consider unwelcome buzzkills -- was particularly gratifying. It was less an avalanche of agreement or disagreement (you’re a genius or you’re jerk) than a thoughtful extension of the original discussion. Bravo, Ombuddies!

Here are excerpts from my elite eight:
My view: Interesting that Trevor separates the boutique franchises from ESPN as a whole. Nevertheless, I think he’s got a point: Cover the story thoroughly, or why bother?
My view: Is this wishful thinking? It seems as though people do care, and unfortunately that often shows itself as negative reactions – whether that’s to an African-American in the White House or a gay man in the NFL.

LeBron launches … a drink?
My view: Good point, Seth. If James is going to take his talents to the carbonation station, let him take out an ad.
My view: “The call of journalism” at ESPN is a topic unto itself, but I think you’re right that “Numbers” has drifted toward words, perhaps because the original concept was unsustainable (and now maybe unnecessary with FiveThirtyEight.)
My view: I second Evan’s sentiments, but I don’t agree that covering controversial topics is in itself divisive.

Sportswriters Feeling Inferior?
My view: You might have a point -- some sportswriters feeling that their work is “frivolous” -- but maybe they are writing frivolously about topics they should be covering seriously. And I wouldn’t call the controversies we’ve been talking about “dumb.” Not when lives are involved.
My view: You really made an end run on that one, but I know what you mean about analysts reading their tea leaves instead of the scoreboard.
My view: Wish I’d written that, Rich. Probably will. Thanks, all.