ESPN’s Principles


ESPN’s Principles

Memo from ESPN President John Skipper to all ESPN employees.

I want to remind everyone about fundamental principles at ESPN.

ESPN is about sports.  Last year, we broadcast over 16,000 sports events.  We show highlights and report scores and tell stories and break down plays.

And we talk about sports all day every day.  Of course, sports is intertwined with society and culture, so “sticking to sports” is not so simple. When athletes engage on issues or when protests happen in games, we cover, report and comment on that.  We are, among other things, the largest, most accomplished and highly resourced sports news organization.  We take great pride in our news organization.

We have programs on which we discuss and even debate sports, as well as the issues that intersect with sports.  Fans themselves love to debate and discuss sports. 

ESPN is not a political organization.  Where sports and politics intersect, no one is told what view they must express.

At the same time, ESPN has values.  We are committed to inclusion and an environment of tolerance where everyone in a diverse work force has the equal opportunity to succeed.  We consider this human, not political.  Consequently, we insist that no one be denigrated for who they are including their gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexual identity.

We have issues of significant debate in our country at this time.  Our employees are citizens and appropriately want to participate in the public discussion.  That can create a conflict for our public facing talent between their work and their personal points of view.  Given this reality, we have social media policies which require people to understand that social platforms are public and their comments on them will reflect on ESPN.  At a minimum, comments should not be inflammatory or personal.

We had a violation of those standards in recent days and our handling of this is a private matter.  As always, in each circumstance we look to do what is best for our business.  

In light of recent events, we need to remind ourselves that we are a journalistic organization and that we should not do anything that undermines that position.  

We also know that ESPN is a special place and that our success is based on you and your colleagues’ work.  Let’s not let the public narrative re-write who we are or what we stand for.  Let’s not be divided in that pursuit.  I will need your support if we are to succeed.


Dave Nagle

It was 33 years at ESPN for me as of November 2019 (the only job I’ve ever had) after joining merely to help with the America’s Cup for three months at a robust $5.50 per hour. I like to say I simply kept showing up. I’ve worked on almost every sport, plus answered viewer calls and letters (people used to write!), given tours, written the company newsletter and once drove NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon to the local airport. My travels have been varied…I’ve been to Martinsville and Super Bowls; the America’s Cup (all 3) in San Diego and College GameDay in the sport’s meccas such as Eugene, Auburn, Lubbock, Stillwater and more; the NBA Finals and Indy 500; Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, in addition to overseeing the Fan Relations, Archives and, my main areas are tennis, ratings, and corporate communications documents, including ESPN’s history and growth.
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