ESPN, you did it again.
The sports and entertainment network suspended outspoken “SportsCenter” anchor Jemele Hill for two weeks for a tweet she wrote this week. Hill’s crime: pointing out that if fans are upset about Cowboys owner Jerry Jones banning players from kneeling during the national anthem, they can always boycott their corporate sponsors.
This is not explosive stuff. Everyone knows if you want to make your voice heard, you boycott advertisers. Hill wasn’t hatching some kind of secret revolt on Twitter this week. She wrote something that’s common sense at this point.
As a result, ESPN is the biggest jerk in sports for the second time in four weeks.
Jones too is a jerk for snuffing out his players’ freedom of speech and expression. But this is nothing new in the NFL, a league where you are fined for not complying with strict uniform regulations. This is a league where if you wear the wrong color shoes, you run the risk of a $9,115 fine (which is the same you get for throwing a dangerous chop block, by the way).
So it screams hypocrisy when a league that trumpets the flag, the military and red, white and blue American pride operates no different than a Communist regime. To NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s credit (and this will make his wife happy), he was quite diplomatic this week when he played both sides of the anthem protest and wrote in a letter to teams that players should stand for the anthem, but people should also show some empathy about the issues the protests are really about.
Jones, who we doubt is a Communist, wants to take away his players’ First Amendment rights. He wants to snatch away their freedom of expression. He wants to punish players for a non-violent protest after giving safe harbor to actual violent criminals for years. That makes the owner a pretty big jerk, but still nothing close to ESPN.
Because ESPN, a news agency, actually punished one of its employees for exercising her own freedom of speech. Worst of all, the suspension is connected to a tweet about advertisers, leading us to believe that ESPN, again, supposedly a news agency, is in the business of protecting corporate partners. In journalism, that’s a no-no. The term in the business is separation of church and state. It also tarnishes the brand, and makes you wonder how much you can trust the network’s future reporting on, say, NFL concussions or the use of PEDs in MLB baseball since both leagues help ESPN make money. Same goes for the network’s reporting on NCAA sports. Has ESPN buried negative stories in the past?
Makes you wonder.
ESPN desperately doesn’t want to offend anyone, and we get that. We live in highly polarized times where even the most mundane things can be twisted and contorted and mischaracterized as something that’s actually offensive. Take, for example, the network firing tennis commentator Doug Adler for using the word “guerilla” (not “gorilla”) during a Venus Williams match. Adler got a raw deal, but ESPN was so afraid he may have offended someone, they cut him loose.
Yet, ESPN has no problem doing business with Barstool Sports, an edgy brand that, we learned this week, makes employees sign a contract with a clause that protects them from being sued for exposing employees to “offensive speech, sexual scenarios, suggestive gestures, and references to stereotypes.”
Next week, ESPN will air a new Barstool late-night talk show in a desperate attempt to salvage sagging ratings and appear hip and cool and appeal to a younger demographic. ESPN is getting in bed with Barstool, a brand some may find offensive, to make money. Of course they are.
Because they’re the biggest jerks in sports this week.
LITTLE MISS MOFFITT
John Moffitt is a former Seattle Seahawks player and you’ve probably never heard of him. That’s why he didn’t get a fraction of the blowback Cam Newton received last week for saying it was “funny” to hear a female reporter talking about football. What Moffitt wrote Sunday on Facebook was far worse. Here it is, with spelling errors and all:
“Women don’t know football – most guys barely do. Stop coming into male spaces and demanding respect.. guys care about the substance of things not the appearence. Just because networks like a sexy sideline reporter for you to look at doesn’t mean cam is sexist for questioning the authenticity of her game knowledge — he was laughing because she was fed that question like most of her kind are. If women are so knowledgeable with a game they can’t play let them do play by play or color commentary.. but no, and women don’t even see that it’s not cam but the network that’s sexist, or just can’t lie about the truth. Women don’t really know the game — they are incapable. Yet in this society where a women can do anything a man can do and men can do nothing this is a rock and a hard place. Personally, I thought it was funny too!”
What isn’t funny is how Moffitt is clearly proud of being such a huge, sexist jerk.
Thursday night at the Eagles-Panthers game in North Carolina, an unidentified fan wearing a Cam Newton jersey sucker punched another paying customer in the stands. Actually, the stadium tough guy landed four punches to the older man’s face before fleeing with a woman.
This is not the first, nor the last time a fight breaks out in a stadium or arena. But no matter how many times it happens, these bottom-feeding fans will always occupy the bottom of the barrel in sports. There are no bigger jerks in the arena than these hooligans.
Sadly, owners like Jones seem more concerned about non-violent protests on the field than actual violence erupting in the stands during games. What jerks.
Finally, Mike Ditka made headlines again this week. You’ll notice the only times Ditka is relevant anymore is when he pops off on politics. He opened his big, uninformed mouth again when he said, in reference to the anthem protests, on a Monday Night Football pregame radio show that “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of.” He later apologized after backlash.
Somebody get Ditka a history book. We’d be happy to translate it from English to Jerk so he can understand it.
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