Pat McAfee shows ESPN only wants Black folk to stick to sports

The saying “It’s not what you say, but how you say it” holds a lot of wisdom. However, at ESPN, it seems that who says it is more important than what is said. Aaron Rodgers and Pat McAfee have been straying from sports for quite some time now, which is a privilege that former and current Black employees do not have. This discrepancy highlights the coded language used to silence Black athletes and individuals.

The terms “stick to sports” and “shut up and dribble” are often used when certain people want Black individuals to remain silent. While society is becoming less politically correct, these individuals are still experts at dog-whistling. It is a subtle way of reminding Black people of their “place” and their perceived lack of importance. Words like “thug,” “woke,” and “diversity/DEI” are used to demean and diminish the experiences of Black individuals.

It is important to acknowledge that ESPN itself has had a history of not hiring Black employees, just like many other publications. Understanding this context is crucial in recognizing the extent to which Rodgers and McAfee have taken advantage of their privileges. Black employees have never been able to enjoy such freedoms, let alone think it was possible while remaining employed.

McAfee recently wrote on his social media accounts, “I haven’t polled our crowd, but I’m rather certain that nobody’s wanting to come hang out with us to hear us talk about politics.” Over the past few months, we have seen Rodgers being paid millions to appear on McAfee’s show and express his controversial views on various topics. Rodgers seems to be able to say anything he wants while McAfee stands by, seemingly unsurprised by his statements.

One of the show’s recent blunders was when Rodgers claimed that Jimmy Kimmel could have been listed in court documents associated with the Jeffrey Epstein case. McAfee then declared that Rodgers was done as a guest for the season, only for Rodgers to return a day later. McAfee also posted something poorly thought out for MLK Day that nobody asked for. These actions highlight the absurdity of their behavior and the double standards at play.

Even more shocking was when McAfee called out one of his bosses, accusing him of sabotage. Norby Williamson, one of the most powerful people at ESPN, was accused by McAfee of trying to undermine their program. If a Black employee had done something similar, they would undoubtedly be out of a job. This discrepancy is evident to many, including former ESPN employees.

Former SportsCenter host Michael Smith and former ESPN host Cari Champion both recognize the stark difference in treatment between Rodgers, McAfee, and Black employees. They acknowledge that the privileges and contracts these two individuals have are unprecedented. If they had been in the same position, they would have faced severe consequences due to their lack of privilege and the nature of their roles as journalists.

The demographic background of an individual has always played a significant role in determining what they can get away with at ESPN. The company has a history of trying to prevent its talent from being in situations like the one Rodgers and McAfee find themselves in now. However, the company’s attempts at enforcing a “stick to sports” policy have been inconsistent and ineffective.

ESPN’s recent name change of its Black site from The Undefeated to Andscape further highlights the disparities within the company. The site provided a space for Black talent to explore topics beyond sports, covering Blackness and culture when it intersects with the sports world. The change in name and subsequent whitewashing of the site diminishes the opportunities for Black employees to express themselves fully.

It is clear that there is a double standard at ESPN when it comes to who can “stick to sports” and who cannot. McAfee’s ability to call out a boss and retain his job is a testament to this. If a similar situation were to occur with a Black employee, the consequences would be much more severe. It is crucial to recognize these discrepancies and pay attention to who is given the freedom to speak out.

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