ESPN is feeling the wrath of the Internet.
It's the dog days of summer for televised sports programming, which means networks like ESPN have to dig deeper to fill all the hours in a day with some kind of programming. Unfortunately, someone may have dug a little too deep on this one.
Soooooo ESPN just did an "auction" sketch 🤔 pic.twitter.com/zvezCItems— Jᴀsᴏɴ (@rjasonscales) August 14, 2017
In an attempt to spice up their fantasy football coverage before the NFL season kicks off in September, ESPN became the "worldwide leader" in potentially racist imagery. The directive got problematic real quick when a segment briefly showed a clip of an auction, with a black football player "sold" to the higehst bidder out of a crowd of what looks like mostly white people. Someone wasn't thinking when they thought this one up.
As you might expect in a situation like this one, many social media users were quick to voice their shock and disgust, including commentators and activists like Shaun King and DeRay Mckesson. Questioned for their integrity and motive behind the segment, ESPN was called out to offer up an official apology.
How. How does not one person stand up and say "Yoooooooo maybe let's not do this." ?!?! https://t.co/OVJplRlLfb— Stephen White (@sgw94) August 15, 2017
Welp. They clearing didn't run this idea by any black people 😬🤦🏽♂️ https://t.co/OuoeIouhip— Derek Minor (@thederekminor) August 15, 2017
what. the. fuck. https://t.co/39eRtQHv33— Russ Bengtson (@russbengtson) August 15, 2017
There is another side to his argument, however. As several other people pointed out on Twitter, auction drafts are a staple in the fantasy football world and a very real alternative to the more commonly used "snake draft" model, where the person who picks first in one round picks last the round after, second goes to second-last and so on. Many veteran fantasy football players actually prefer this model to the snake-style draft, since it gives them way more freedom to construct their team as they see fit.
I'm with you on 99.8% of things, but this is a type of fantasy football draft, auction style, where all players are auctioned off. Calm down— Ernie Estrella (@ErnieEstrella) August 15, 2017
It's an auction draft, which is a type of fantasy football draft available. No need for the outrage.— Delicious Castle (@IP_eXcellence) August 15, 2017
Everyone who has a problem with this auction draft clearly knows nothing about fantasy football. Relax people.— Mr. Bottoms (@MrBottoms34) August 15, 2017
No matter how good the intentions were from ESPN, there's no denying that this looks really bad when displayed as a visual on TV. If Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers would've been the player selected at an auction by another white person, then maybe there's no public outcry like there was here. However, especially in the wake of White Nationalists spreading hate in Charlottesville, this kind of gaffe is at the very least insensitive when looking at the larger context. Fantasy football staple or not, acting out the auctioning of black players is an easily avoidable mistake.