President Obama will participate in a one-hour town hall to air on ESPN Oct. 11.
The event — billed A Conversation with The President: Sports, Race and Achievement — is being convened by The Undefeated, ESPN’s website which focuses on the intersections of sports, race, and culture.
From the ESPN press release:
President Obama will discuss lessons in leadership; the “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative, which aims to address opportunity gaps faced by all youth including boys and young men of color; the current role and legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities; athletes and social activism; the Obama Administration’s actions to provide opportunity for students and more. The President will also take questions from the audience.
The event will be held at North Carolina A&T, and will be moderated by longtime SportsCenter anchor Stan Verrett.
For reasons still unclear to almost every single living person that made ESPN wildly successful, the network decided to start tiptoeing into the political pool several years back. While all of its fans were screaming, “Don’t go in the water!” the network waded in a little deeper. Here in a year that finds even political junkies weary of politics, ESPN is in the deep end of the pool and it’s as unpleasant as if you happened upon your fat Uncle Chester skinny dipping.
If there is anyone outside of the network’s Bristol, CT headquarters who is enjoying all of the politics, I haven’t met them. Personally, I can’t stand mixing sports and politics. On Sundays, I detox from politics and am less than pleasant on social media to those who interrupt some healthy football trash talk by yoking the two subjects. I don’t call Domino’s and order a pizza when I’m at church either. There is a time and a place for everything and some things don’t belong together. When Bob Costas starts lecturing about gun control during Sunday Night Football (NBC has gotten bad mixing sports and politics too) I just want to bury the little gnome upside down in the garden.
For a long time, I thought that this may just be a peculiarity of mine. It would appear that’s not the case.
ESPN’s cable subscriber numbers have been practically in free-fall for a few years now. That certainly has something to do with the rapid change in the viewing habits of American television viewers but it also happens to coincide with the network’s increased involvement with its political fetish.
When I joined Facebook lo those many years ago the first television show I listed as a favorite on my profile was “Sports Center”. It was the only show I watched frequently. When I’m on the road I like to go back to the hotel after the show and watch “Sports Center” to unwind and catch-up.
I used to, anyway. Even “Sports Center” awkwardly interjects serious political stories now. Keith Olbermann wasn’t that tediously political when he was there the first time around. Keith. Olbermann. Let that sink in.
Notice I am not complaining about the leftist bent of the politics on ESPN. Of course I find that annoying, but I would be equally as peeved if they went the other way because I JUST WANT THE HIGHLIGHTS AND SCORES.
That leftward tilt is perplexing, however. One wonders if anyone in upper management has wandered outside HQ and met an American sports fan, even the fans in the east. Beyond that, it is a fairly safe bet that flyover country, where a good many of the most ardent sports fans in America live (see: Nebraska football), aren’t interested in any social justice interludes between score updates.
It would be easy to say, “Let it all burn” and hope that this direction does permanent damage to ESPN but that isn’t what most sports fans want. We’d simply like them to get back to doing what they once did better than anyone else: broadcasting sports.
Sadly, I don’t think they’re listening to the fans much these days.