The biggest story happening in American society right now is the conclusion of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. America gets to look forward to a matchup between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who the numbers show are two of the most polarizing people to ever be nominated for the presidency.

ESPN has been under a lot of crossfire for taking perceived stands on some hot-button political issues and there is a growing perception (rightly or wrongly) the network leans towards the Democratic side.

In the past, ESPN has dipped their toes into the presidential election, usually relegating candidates to a fluff Monday Night Football interview with Chris Berman.

Given how politically charged this election is, and where ESPN’s political and social influence has been under the radar in the last year, what should they do this year?  Should they back away completely and exit the political arena, should they push all-in as a network, or should they keep doing what they’re doing so we can endure Berman interviewing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton about the New York Giants?

Here’s our staff’s thoughts:

Joe Lucia: I highly doubt either candidate is interviewed, because it’ll create issues and friction and really accomplish nothing. We’re not going to learn anything new, and the only thing interviews would end up doing is lead to more charged attacks and rhetoric. What would be the positives if the candidates are interviewed? I honestly can’t think of any.

Alex Putterman: As much as I think #sticktosports is narrow-minded and regressive, it’s hard to blame ESPN for preferring to remain apolitical when possible. It’s not a sports network’s place to conduct hardball interviews of presidential candidates, so if they’re going to have the candidates on their programs, fluff is really the way to go.

However, while it’s fair for ESPN to bar its talent from offering endorsements of specific candidates, the network can (and should) allow its talent to take on political topics. Social and economic issues interact with the sports world all the time, and ESPNers paid to offer their opinions need the freedom to talk about the NBA pulling the All-Star Game out of Charlotte or WNBA players taking a stand against police violence.

Do I have a problem with ESPN seeming to lean left on social issues? If leaning left means standing up for the rights of LGBTQ people, endorsing racial justice and firing hateful bigots, then no, I don’t have a problem with that.

Ben Koo: I don’t think ESPN nor the sports media reporters are fully aware of just how many sports fans now have a negative connotation with the channel because of its political leanings. It’s like that river of sludge hatred in GhostBusters II that you can’t see because it’s underground although it spills over on Twitter, comment sections, and anywhere desperate enough to book Curt Schilling for a guest appearance.

All that said, I don’t think the MNF appearances really rubbed anyone the wrong way. If they get rid of them, it should be because they were really bland and forgettable and not because a sizable chunk of sports fans thinks the network is too left leaning. I mean, can you recall much about any of these in year’s past? I can just recall candidates being REALLY tired and saying basic stuff like “This was great. America is great. Go vote!” I can easily do without that. In fact how about they swap it out for a competition of frisbee catching dogs wearing campaign gear for Clinton and Trump? Unless Berman asks Trump about his disastrous USFL ownership, the whole thing will be another sterile and safe affair. Maybe a different interviewer would help but either way, nixing it doesn’t really alleviate anything for ESPN. Keep it and let Scott Van Pelt or Bob Ley do it.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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