ESPN committed quite the major oopsie earlier this week. In case you missed it, here’s a quick refresher. The sporting channel aired a sketch meant to rile up fans for some fantasy football. It riled them up all right, but not the way ESPN was hoping.
— Rashad (@RashadDrakeford) August 15, 2017
To be fair, the sketch was meant to excite folks about fantasy football. An undoubtedly impossible task if I’ve ever seen one. Hold your fantasy football hate tweets. I don’t care.
What it intended as an entertaining fantasy football scene, ESPN realized too late, at times bore an uncomfortable resemblance to a slave auction.
As part of its “Fantasy Football Marathon” … the sports cannel had fantasy competitors bidding for NFL players both white and of color.
The sketch featured a white auctioneer holding up popsicle sticks with faces of players to what appeared to be an assemblage of mostly white bidders. For many viewers, it was a bad look, especially coming after a weekend of white supremacist-led violence in Charlottesville, Va.
Tongue in cheek? Maybe. Piss poor timing and lack of awareness? Definitely. Neither of which are crimes, but they’re sure to spark outrage from certain viewers of wimpish persuasion. Also, apparently the players weren’t too happy about having their faces stuck to tongue depressors and sold to the highest bidder. Didn’t take long for an apology to be given.
“Auction drafts are a common part of fantasy football, and ESPN’s segments replicated an auction draft with a diverse slate of top professional football players,” ESPN said in a statement. “Without context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize.”
Look, we here at LwC are far from the politically correct tightwads who get “OFFENDED!” at tone-deaf commercials. Seriously, have you seen the show? I digress. But old white dudes auctioning off young men doesn’t exactly scream “politically correct,” which is what ESPN seems to have been going for lately (see Oops! ESPN Runs Feminist Poem Tribute to… A Fugitive Cop Killer?! and Curt Schilling Fires Back on ESPN’s Leftist Hypocrisy.). To the point that ESPN is on the financial ropes. Yet despite their attempts to be more PC than an intersectional lesbian professor, ESPN auctioned off people (many “of color”). Okay.
Yes, it’s dumb to get offended over a sketch about fantasy football. I’ll skip over the inanity of fantasy football in general. Get real hobbies. But the point here is this: ESPN has catered to those who get easily offended while maligning those who aren’t offended (see MORON ALERT: ESPN Host Says Standing for Anthem is ‘Injecting Politics’ into Sports). This is the result. Now they must walk on egg shells for all eternity. They made their progressive bed, now they get to lie in it.
No tears shed.