No need to apologize for rambling; shortening attention spans are, in a roundabout way, the prime catalyst for the breakdown in civil discourse. Or at least one of them.
Maybe the source of our disagreement, inasmuch as it exists, is the perception how “value” is assigned to an opinion. You point out, indisputably, that millions of people subscribe to viewpoints and principles that rarely get talked about in sports journalism. And yet, for some issues — perhaps fewer than sports journalist think, but some — the popularity of an idea doesn’t impact its intrinsic moral worth. I happen to believe that there’s more room for objectivity in unscientific moral pronouncements than most people do, but to use a recent example that can be backed up with hard data: the indefinite ban on refugees is unacceptable, given a) the vetting procedures already in place and b) the risk that refuges pose. If millions of people believe that banning Syrian refugees from entering the United States is the correct thing to do, than their opinion is “wrong,” morally and scientifically. It’s as wrong as saying that, because Louisiana has the highest murder rate per capita, Louisianians shouldn’t be permitted interstate travel. Which is, obviously, insane. The idea the no opinion can ever be wrong, originally (and sometimes still) believed by progressives like myself, has been wildly misappropriated.
And with regard to conservatives not feeling comfortable sharing their opinions…I don’t know, man. Maybe that’s just who you follow. You ever listen to sports radio? I’m from New York, and occasionally listen to Mike Francesca, and assure you that he has no qualms about promoting conservative viewpoints. But more practically, have you seen this infographic? (http://verdantlabs.com/politics_of_professions/). Professions are homogenous by nature, and I don’t think it’s crazy to postulate that NFL writers and announcers, who tend to live and work in cities and definitely work in media (two big liberal indicators), would skew heavily liberal. There are conservative voices in sports journalism out there, but they’re probably as few and far between as liberal voices in, say, the military.
And lastly: I’m no rah-rah free market capitalist, but if ESPN is truly skewing liberal all of a sudden (a fact I’m not so sure about, tbh), then it’s the market dictating that skew, not some shadow liberal regulatory organization.