Over the past week there was a collision between sports and politics and ESPN’s sports journalists had to perform at the highest level in order to make sense of it all for fans. NBA reporter Ramona Shelburne shares her experience in the immediate aftermath of President Trump’s Saturday tweet “disinviting” the Warriors to the White House.
What are the challenges when covering the intersection of sports and politics?
In this case, it’s actually not that hard asking questions of athletes, owners and coaches on political issues. I find it’s best to just go straight at it. Ask the question straight, let them answer. They all knew what was coming after the President’s tweet. [Shelburne was covering the start of Warriors’ training camp on Saturday.] The hard part was in writing the end-of-day column.
– Ramona Shelburne
I obviously have my own opinions on the situation, but I thought it was really important in this case to stay objective and unbiased in how I wrote it. Things are so charged right now, on both sides of the aisle, if your own feelings and political leanings show through, readers won’t “hear” the arguments you’re making.
Bring us through your writing process for the column that ran Saturday.
I talked it through with [editor] Christina Daglas and my friend, [and co-worker The Jump host] Rachel Nichols, quite a bit. They both helped me a lot in refining what I was writing about. I’m used to checking my objectivity throughout the reporting and writing process, but normally you’re just checking for personal biases towards players or teams, not emotionally charged political leanings.