ESPN Under Fire After It Announced Patriotic Award for... Prince Harry?


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

ESPN is being dragged on social media after it was announced that Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, will be awarded the Pat Tillman Award for Service at next month’s ESPY Awards.

As the network previously explained, the award is handed out annually to “an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of the former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger.”

Tillman, a former Arizona Cardinal, notably left the NFL after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 2002.

As a Ranger, Tillman was killed in action in April 2004 in Afghanistan.

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Each year, the Tillman Award is given to either an individual or a group whose contributions honor the sacrifice of the former Arizona Cardinal.

However, when ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter announced on June 27 that this year’s Tillman award would go to a British royal, scores of his followers were displeased.

“Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, will receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service, an award given to a person with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of the former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger, Pat Tillman,” Schefter tweeted.

Do you think Prince Harry deserves the Pat Tillman award?

Responses to the announcement were largely mixed to negative:

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While Harry is a member of the U.K.’s royal family, the 39-year-old did serve for years in his country’s military and previously spoke of killing terrorists in Afghanistan as a gunner and an Apache helicopter copilot.

As The Hill noted, Harry also helped to organize the Invictus Games in 2014, which allows both wounded veterans and active-duty members of the military to compete against one another in multiple sports annually.

In a statement to ABC News, ESPN VP of production Kate Jackson spoke of handing Prince Harry the Tillman award, “It’s our privilege to recognize three incredible individuals – Steve Gleason, Dawn Staley and Prince Harry.”

Jackson concluded, “These honorees have used their platforms to change the world and make it more inclusive for marginalized and suffering communities, demonstrating incredible resilience, positivity and perseverance, and we’re thrilled to celebrate them at The 2024 ESPYS.”

The ESPYS will air July 11, 2024, on ABC at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.