Popular sports channel ESPN is clearing up that controversial AF auction video. The network has responded to growing backlash over the perceived racist fantasy football auction bidding.
Hours after the footage went viral, ESPN issued a statement on the controversy.
“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. Without that context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize,” ESPN said in a statement. (Fox Business)
Tensions primarily flared due to the lack of black people in the fictional bidding audience.
The more troublesome thing here is that the crowd was overwhelmingly white and no African-American men can be seen representing a group that they are part of–fantasy football and football fans. This group appears to be a group of ESPN employees likely drawn into the scene as “extras.” (The Big Lead)
The auction also went down less than 72 hours after white supremacists protested in Virginia.
“Certainly, a situation like this calls into question whether ESPN has enough people in leadership positions who would instinctively understand and make note of the potential reaction to this segment,” Matthew Zimmerman, an assistant professor of sport studies at Mississippi State University, told USA TODAY Sports via Facebook Messenger. (USA Today)
Social media didn’t slow down with widespread reactions to the segment.
They hosted a slave auction on ESPN and mascaraed it as a NFL draft
— David (@DWash300) August 15, 2017
ESPN sold Odell on an auction block to a crowd of White people. In 2017.
— DJ Steph Floss (@djstephfloss) August 15, 2017
Soooooo ESPN just did an "auction" sketch 🤔 pic.twitter.com/zvezCItems
— Jᴀsᴏɴ (@rjasonscales) August 14, 2017
Apologize now for doing a sketch where you auctioned a Black man off to the highest bidder. pic.twitter.com/D8SC1cjhBU
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 15, 2017
— The Root (@TheRoot) August 15, 2017