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ESPN has apologized after getting backlash for a fantasy football auction skit depicting black and white players up for bidding. Critics said it was similar to a slave auction.
Alex Makrides, Palm Beach Post
During ESPN’s 28-hour “Fantasy Football Marathon,” which began Monday, the network aired a questionable skit involving a live auction draft, where in one scene black players were sold to bidders -- which were composed of mostly white males.
Instead of a typical snake draft, where people will select a player by rounds, an auction draft is based on a budget and bids are taken for certain players. In the skit, the predominantly white audience bids for talented black football players. Many called the scene inappropriate, particularly given the recent race-fueled events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
CNN reported that ESPN released a video of a segment in which New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was up for auction. Brady is white. Some pointed out that white players were also in the segment, and that the skit simply reflected auction drafts that are part of fantasy football.
Fam-The optics aren't good-agreed. But it was replicating Fantasy Football auctions--whites up for bid too. We appreciate you. https://t.co/oTVl1pkJku
In a statement to USA TODAY, ESPN apologized for the skit, saying, “Auction drafts are a common part of fantasy football, and ESPN’s segments replicated an auction draft with a diverse slate of top professional football players. Without that context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize.”