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Journalism Showcase: “Outside the Lines” Three-Part Series On “SportsCenter” Explores Current Debate Surrounding Transgender Athletes

Andy Tennant, ESPN VP and EP, Original Content: "This topic is at the intersection of sports, diversity, and culture, and we at ESPN have a journalistic responsibility to cover it."

Outside the Lines, ESPN’s flagship journalism brand for more than 30 years, is presenting a three-part series exploring the current debate surrounding transgender athletes.

The series debuted on Thursday in the daily OTL on SC segment within the noon ET edition of SportsCenter. The second part airs today, also within the noon ET SportsCenter, with the final part airing Saturday in the 7 a.m. hour of SportsCenter.

ESPN reporter Tisha Thompson (L) interviews former All-American swimmer Riley Gaines (Willie Weinbaum/ESPN)

Jeremy Schaap hosts the series with reporters including Katie Barnes and Tisha Thompson. The segment producers are Maddie Rundlett, Jason Kostura, and Willie Weinbaum.

“The mission of this series is to educate and inform our audience on the issues surrounding the transgender athlete with fair and balanced perspective,” said Andy Tennant, ESPN Vice President and Executive Producer, Original Content. “This topic is at the intersection of sports, diversity, and culture, and we at ESPN have a journalistic responsibility to cover it.”

Tennant answered additional questions for Front Row:

Why is this series important right now?
In the last few years, the subject of transgender athletes and whether transgender women should be allowed to compete in women’s sports has moved from the periphery of our national dialogue to the mainstream. Millions who had never previously given the issue much thought now do. The debate is raging, and it’s become yet another battleground in our culture wars. At the heart of the matter, there are challenging questions about what constitutes fairness and how to achieve inclusiveness. Those are some of the questions we will be addressing in this series.

How does OTL cover polarizing topics like this in a balanced, sensitive way?
We cover these issues the way we cover any sensitive issues, by applying journalistic principles and techniques, by consulting among ourselves, with our team of reporters and editors, and by finding the right people to interview. That means interviewing the most important voices and the top experts in the field—and then, through the editorial process, producing stories that address the issues in a fair and thoughtful way.

What do you hope viewers take away from the series?
We hope that viewers come away with a deeper understanding of the issues and appreciation of the complexities.

EDITOR’S NOTE: After airing on television, segments from the series will be available for viewing on a special landing page on along with written pieces. The segments also will be available on the ESPN YouTube channel

ESPN reporter Katie Barnes (L) interviews transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. (ESPN)
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