Case in point: is domestic violence a Republican or Democrat “issue?” Is one party generally blase about it, and the other party hard core? I dare say that nobody is “for” reducing punishment of domestic violence, right?
So when people say that ESPN has lost some viewers because of too much “politics” or more specifically “left wing politics” they are only grazing the real point.
Here’s what happened on Friday night. It’s Day 2 of the NFL draft, and many football fans are eagerly in front of ESPN to see who their team might take in the second round. The standard procedure for draft picks, is to announce the pick, then launch into a 1) Highlight package 2) How he fits with team 3) Strengths/Weakness and 4) Any other “off-field” issues (if any).
When Joe Mixon was selected by the Bengals, ESPN threw out the playbook, and went into full-blown “Virtue Signalling” mode.
Virtue signalling is not exclusively a “left” issue, but it IS big among so-called SJW’s (Social Justice Warriors) who are overwhelmingly liberal and democratic. It’s not enough for SJW’s to say what Mixon did was horrible and inexcusable. No, they must show that they are MORE virtuous than anybody else, by basically insisting that Mixon never play football for a paycheck.
As a side note, for the “Never Mixon” crowd, what job IS he permitted to pursue in the wake of his assault on that young woman? If he can’t be a football player (insert your high minded reasons here) then can be be a high school coach? A personal trainer? Shoe salesman? What else MUST Joe Mixon be PREVENTED for doing as a man who has both paid his debt to society legally, and made a substantial financial restitution to the victim?
Anyway… back to my point.
When the Mixon pick was announced, the tonal change in host Trey Wingo’s voice was simply over the top. He thundered on about how you “can never UN-see” the footage of the savage attack, and that Mixon was going to have to “deal with the fallout” of it now that he’s a Bengal.
The panel on ESPN then prattled on about Mixon, mostly re-condemning the original act while virtue signalling that THEY would never draft a guy “like that.” Not a single Mixon highlight was shown.
While this was going on, two more picks were made by other teams – one of them my Redskins who took Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson – and because of the Mixon filibuster, they got barely any mention at all.
(I don’t have the ESPN broadcast tape, so I can’t vouch for exactly how much they curtailed their normal post-pick reaction and highlight package, but I can confirm that I was peeved, and several reader emailed me the same).
Now, here’s the rub. And here’s where ESPN has totally lost it’s way. NOT A SINGLE PERSON watching the NFL Draft on Night #2 was unaware of who Joe Mixon is, and what he had done. Nobody. Furthermore, nobody watching the draft had any reasonable assumption that anybody on ESPN’s set condoned or dismissed the horrible nature of that attack.
So what the hell was ESPN doing? Pure, over the top, virtue signalling. It’s not politics, per se, but it sure isn’t fucking SPORTS!
ESPN did a direct and tangible DIS-service to their CUSTOMERS by not dealing with Mixon as any other draft pick, AND THEN at the end of the football discussion, make mention of his past, and the narrow ledge for any future misconduct upon which he enters the league.
I don’t have any problem with ESPN showing the video of the assault. Although I am not sure the victim is thrilled to have that tape played over and over. Either way, if ESPN wanted to do one of their maudlin “Town Halls” on Joe Mixon’s assault conviction, then have at it.
But do it an hour before the damn draft!
So not only did we get a half-assed assessment of how Mixon might do as a pro (absent any further troubles, “spectacular” is the consensus) from the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” but we were gypped out of proper analysis of TWO ADDITIONAL DRAFT PICKS!
Imagine too, if you were the two guys drafted next. Biggest moment of your life, your whole family watching on TV, waiting to see your sick collegiate highlights and the panel gush over what a great player you are…. and… well. A bunch of guys in suits, reminding everybody that they are SO MUCH MORE against and aghast at domestic violence than you are.
(I did not see the NFL Network’s coverage of this pick, so I can’t say they did the same thing, or not.)
All I know, is that THIS is the kind of thing that has been an UNDENIABLE drag on ESPN viewership. Maybe it’s only a 2% drag, but there’s no way it’s a positive. Not a single NON-ESPN viewer, or marginal sports fan, said to himself: “Hey, I hear that ESPN has become much more socially “woke.” I might have to go give them some more time!”