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Abstract

Since the 2016 presidential election, there has been the perception that politics has not only taken the forefront in news, but in sports as well. After then NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest social injustice, ESPN’s protest coverage became a source of debate as various media outlets accused the network of exhibiting partisan coverage with a liberal bias. Sports journalism has historically suffered with issues of credibility, especially ESPN because of the blurring of the lines between information and entertainment. Through a content analysis of the sport site’s Facebook comments, this study found that espn.com users were more likely to be uncivil towards other commenters and were less concerned with a perceived bias by the site. This, however, is not conclusive evidence that espn.com does not have some sort of bias but does indicate that the assumed commenters of sports sites are similar to those of hard news sites, often using its platform for their own political messaging and attacking other users who have different views.

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