ESPN has decided how to handle anthem protests for Monday Night Football. Big mistake or good business call?

When ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro revealed last week that the network does not intend to broadcast the singing and playing of the national anthem during “Monday Night Football” this year, outspoken Hollywood actor James Woods responded with just three scathing words.


“We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don’t think there’s going to be any change this year. Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem,” Pitaro had said to a reporter Friday.

“Again, there could be changes. It’s somewhat unpredictable what’s going to happen in the world but as of now our plan now is to not broadcast the anthem. We have communicated that back to the NFL. They have not asked but we proactively just as a courtesy and as good partners let them know what our plans are.”

What spurred Woods’ ruthless tweet was likely the motivation behind ESPN’s refusal to broadcast the anthem and show respect to the United States. The network used to show the national anthem during every game broadcast but stopped after the NFL’s ongoing national anthem protests began in late 2016.

By skipping the anthem, ESPN gets to avoid becoming embroiled in the politics of the national anthem protests, which appears to be the network’s goal, or at least judging by Pitaro’s rhetoric.

“It’s not our job to [cover] politics, purely, but we’ll cover the intersection of sports and politics,” he reportedly said. “When something happens, when Eagles are disinvited from White House, when someone takes a knee, if we think newsworthy were going to cover it.”

The problem is that the network’s behavior completely disproves this narrative. ESPN is always unnecessarily involving itself in politics — left-wing politics,  to be precise.

This year the ESPN rehired anti-Trump zealot Keith Olbermann, last year a network contributor labeled President Donald Trump a “white supremacist” and the year before that it fired a baseball analyst over his conservative political views. ESPN is essentially a left-wing political/sports network.

And according to Twitter users, the fact that a patently left-wing network refuses to broadcast the anthem suggests that ESPN supports the NFL’s national anthem protests:

Are Woods and others on social media right to be so angry at ESPN, or was Pitaro being sincere when he claimed that he’s just trying to disassociate the network from “pure politics?”


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Vivek Saxena


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