Sports media is overpopulated by privileged white people, myself included. But it’s especially populated by privileged white men, who are never called to account for their privilege or use it in any constructive way. America seems, by and large, OK with this: The “leave politics out of sports!” crowd has effectively shouted down and exhausted those of us who keep insisting that sports is not, and has never been, apolitical. For the most part, we try to pick our battles and ignore the rest of it.
But sometimes a white media person does something that evidences such terrible judgment, such lack of compassion or care for the people they cover, that it merits calling them out on it. Witness, then, this tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
See, because you think he means the Presidential Election, but he actually means the NFL trade deadline!
This is a poor attempt at humor during a good year, and a “fuck you” to every non-white person who has been and continues to be deeply affected by the actions and policies of Donald Trump in 2020. While the President continues to refuse to disavow white supremacy (shoutout to Jemele Hill, who was light years ahead of the rest of America on this one), while COVID continues to ravage Black and brown communities at two and a half times more than white ones, while people wait in line to vote for upwards of 11 hours in Marietta, Ga., this is the joke Adam Schefter decided to make.
He doesn’t have to worry about these things, you see. As a white man with a high-paying gig, he doesn’t have to think about the same things you do. He’ll continue to do well no matter who sits on the Supreme Court, no matter who occupies the Oval Office.
Schefter has built his career and reputation on covering a league that is 70 percent Black. It’s also a league that is run, coached, and covered overwhelmingly by white men. I have a pretty good idea who the audience was intended to be for Schefter’s tweet, but I hope the guys he covers in the league see it as well — and remember it next time they decide who they trust with their stories and information.
I know, I know, he was just joking, right? Okay, it was a bad joke, but he didn’t mean anything by it.
At what point, though, do we start holding people accountable for bad jokes that actively ignore harm to others in the name of scoring some Twitter likes? When do the white men who cover largely Black leagues have to walk a mile in the players’ shoes?
And, my God, when will sports media stop being a haven for mediocre white men to make hay off the suffering of others?