ESPN’s Outside the Lines Explores Debate Surrounding Transgender Athletes

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ESPN’s Outside the Lines Explores Debate Surrounding Transgender Athletes

Three-Part Series Debuts Thursday and Will Air Within SportsCenter

A three-part Outside the Lines series debuting Thursday will explore the current debate surrounding transgender athletes and the participation of transgender women in women’s sports. For more than 30 years, OTL has been ESPN’s flagship journalism brand, widely acclaimed for its hard hitting reporting and incisive commentary.

Hosted by Jeremy Schaap, the series will debut in the OTL on SC segment in the 1 p.m. ET hour of SportsCenter on Thursday, August 24, with the second part airing on Friday, August 25, also in the 1 p.m. hour of SportsCenter. The final part will air Saturday, August 26, within the 7 a.m. edition of SportsCenter and will re-air on Monday, August 28, in the 1 p.m. hour of SportsCenter (airing on ESPN2).

“In the last few years, the subject of the transgender athlete 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,” said Andy Tennant, ESPN Vice President & Executive Producer, Original Content. “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,” he said. “Those are some of the questions we will be addressing in this series.”

The three-part series will include:

THURSDAY – “The Science”

As sports governing bodies evaluate their transgender athlete inclusion policies, the scientific community has become increasingly relevant to the discussion. Schaap speaks with researchers Tommy Lundberg and Joanna Harper about key physiological and biological elements of the debate, as well as the state of research on transgender athlete performance as a whole.

FRIDAY – “The Legislation”

There are currently 23 states that have passed laws regarding transgender athlete participation, with North Carolina the latest. Outside the Lines and reporter Katie Barnes examine the landscape and report on a family in Missouri impacted by that state’s recent legislation.

SATURDAY – “The Human Experience”

The stories of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who made history last year, and Riley Gaines, who competed against her. Reporter Tisha Thompson interviews Gaines, the outspoken former NCAA All-American for the University of Kentucky who opposes trans women competing in women’s sports.  Thomas, who didn’t respond to ESPN’s recent interview requests, sat down with Barnes in May 2022, in the wake of her NCAA 500 freestyle championship for the University of Pennsylvania.

“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 Tennant. “We hope that viewers come away with a deeper understanding of the issues and appreciation of the complexities.”

After airing on television, segments from the series will be available for viewing on a special landing page on which will become active on Thursday. The segments also will be available on the ESPN YouTube channel.


Media contact: [email protected]

Andy Hall

My main responsibility is PR/Communications for ESPN’s news platforms including the Enterprise/Investigative Unit, the E60 program and SportsCenter. In addition, I’m the PR contact for ESPN’s Formula 1 coverage, golf majors (the Masters and PGA Championship) and TGL golf. I’m based in Daytona Beach, Fla., and have been with ESPN since 2006.
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