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Posted: August 15, 2017

ESPN receives backlash, apologizes for fantasy auction of black players to white bidders

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.
Mike Windle/Getty Images for ESPN/Getty Images for ESPN
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.

By 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.

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The skit garnered a lot of criticism with people pointing out the skit appeared eerily similar to what one would have see during a slave auction.  

When asked for his thoughts by retired NFL player Dominique Hamilton, New York Giants player Odell Beckham Jr. replied, “Speechless.”

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.

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.” 


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