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Race, Politics, and Identity on ESPN

Updated: Nov 22, 2021


In recent years, much debate has revolved around the links between race, career, and the media. This is particularly the case in the sports world, where issues of race and gender have a constant media presence.


Jemele Hill and Michael Smith became the new anchors of the ESPN evening sports news show, SportsCenter. The appointment of these two young, popular black personalities sent a message to the sports media world that ESPN was hoping to bolster its sinking ratings by attracting a younger, hipper, and more 'diverse' (read: browner) audience. Shortly after their appointment, the sports world became a battleground for race and politics.


Professional athletes skipped White House meet-and-greets with President Trump in protest of his rhetoric about race and Colin Kaepernick, and other black players took a knee to protest police violence and racial inequality. ESPN coverage faced incredible scrutiny: was the network promoting a "liberal agenda" by covering the protests? Did sports really have to be political?


Listen and learn more about these intersecting debates here!


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