ESPN used to be the go-to channel for sports fans across the country. But the network has succumbed to the decay of liberal politics, and this past week has shown that in every way.
ESPN analyst Jay Williams congratulated new Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka on being the “first head coach of color” for the Celtics. The problem with that? Udoka was actually the sixth. Those previous coaches weren’t exactly obscure either: Bill Russell became the first black head coach in all of North American sports, and Doc Rivers was the Celtics head coach in the far-gone year of 2013. Those two, along with K.C. Jones, all won titles with the Celtics.
In a rush to make Udoka’s hiring about race, Williams made a fool of himself (he claims that he was hacked, for whatever that’s worth). But that’s all it was. There was no malicious intent. Not like the kind that came from another ESPN analyst, Stephen A. Smith, when he angrily walked off the set of the show First Take earlier this month after the Celtics promoted former head coach Brad Stevens to general manager. Smith was infuriated for no reason beyond the fact that Stevens happens to be white.
That more malicious version of ESPN’s racism reared its head again shortly after Williams’s tweet. ESPN analyst Jalen Rose claimed that Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love was included on the U.S. Olympic basketball team only because of “tokenism” (Love is white) and that the U.S. was too afraid to send an all-black basketball team to represent the country.
The problem with that? Team USA did exactly that in the last Olympics, sending an all-black team to Rio in 2016. This was not a congratulatory tweet that came after a brain spasm, like Williams’s blunder. This was race-baiting, an accusation based entirely on Rose’s own opinion and done with no research whatsoever.
And then there is the ESPN cover story on WNBA player Layshia Clarendon. Clarendon is a biological woman who claims to be transgender and “nonbinary.” ESPN then decided to butcher the English language throughout its profile of her, claiming in an editor’s note, “Layshia Clarendon, who identifies as transgender and nonbinary, uses he/him, she/her, and they/them pronouns interchangeably. We do so throughout this piece.” Never mind how confusing that might be for the readers.
This is never what ESPN was supposed to be, but it is now. Williams and Rose are integral to the network’s basketball coverage. Smith is considered a network star. Basic facts (and grammar) have no place at the network anymore. It has become infected by liberal politics, and its product as a sports juggernaut has suffered as a result.