As has been well-chronicled, ESPN’s experiment to turn the 6 p.m. edition of “SportsCenter” into more of a show about social commentary rather than actual sports highlights was an abject failure.
The ratings were dismal, co-hosts Michael Smith and Jemele Hill were unhappy, and ESPN came out worse for the wear for bumbling such a prominent time slot.
In what had to have been a stinging revelation, the ratings for the 6 p.m. edition of “SportsCenter” actually increased by 9 percent after Smith and Hill were ousted from their positions as co-hosts.
From early indications, it seems that ESPN got the message loud and clear — fans wants sports on their sports highlight shows, not social commentary.
That became abundantly clear when The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch reported that ESPN was replacing Smith and Hill with Kevin Negandhi and Sage Steele. Currently, ESPN has a rotating cast of anchors for the 6 p.m. time slot.
Negandhi and Steele are both professionals who do an admirable job of “sticking to sports.” They’re not trying to be “woke” when they’re on television. They just want to help the viewer watch sports.
This isn’t to say that neither anchor is apolitical. Steele in particular is very proud of her conservative background. But unlike Hill, who constantly tries to espouse her beliefs on television as well as social media, Steele only addresses her personal beliefs when she’s not on the air. From all indications, Sage Steele is on television to discuss sports highlights, and that’s all she actually does.
Unsurprisingly, detractors and critics are coming out of the woodworks to lambast Steele’s conservative views. Chief among those critics was Black Sports Online CEO Robert Littal.
The “sunken place” is a reference to the movie “Get Out.” Director Jordan Peele described the sunken place as “the system that silences the voice of women, minorities, and of other people.”
“The sunken place is the president who calls athletes sons of b—–s for expressing their beliefs on the field and the homeland of our most beautiful immigrants s—holes. Every day there is proof that we are in the sunken place,” he said in January.
Moreover, a “Black Will Cain” refers to the conservative ESPN personality who occasionally appears on “First Take.”
The rest of Littal’s Twitter rant is self-explanatory.
Frankly, Littal’s tweet is despicable, misinformed and represents the lowest form of identity politics. Littal is ripping Steele because she has the audacity to tell an NFL player to stand during the anthem and is proud of her Christian faith.
In other words, Littal’s hatred for Steele seems to stem solely from the fact that she has a different set of beliefs.
The worst part is the avalanche of hate that Littal sparked. He quite literally brought the very worst out in his followers.
If there’s a silver lining for Steele, besides the new gig, it’s that Littal reinforced a major point she made at a Christian forum in 2017.
“The worst racism that I have received (as a biracial woman married to a white man), and I mean thousands and thousands over the years, is from black people, who in my mind thought would be the most accepting because there has been that experience,” Steele said during the forum. “But even as recent as the last couple of weeks, the words that I have had thrown at me I can’t repeat here, and it’s 99 percent from people with my skin color.”
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