ESPN President Says Network Will Not Televise National Anthem During NFL Games
New ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro says that the network has no plans to televise the national anthem during broadcasts of Monday Night Football.
Pitano says that the network has never broadcast the national anthem and had no plans to do so now. However, he did not say whether announcers and commentators would offer on-air opinions if there were protests by players during the anthem.
Pitaro, who was hired March 5 following the abrupt departure of John Skipper, told reporters at a media event on ESPN's campus in Bristol, Conn., that the network has not previously shown the national anthem during its Monday Night Football broadcasts and does not have plans to change — at least, not in the immediate future.
According to Axios, Pitaro also said that ESPN has informed the league of its plans "as (a) courtesy" given their partnership. Earlier, he had told reporters that he has spent much of his young tenure at ESPN working to strengthen the company's relationship with the NFL.
ESPN pays about $2 billion per year for the right to broadcast Monday Night Football , according to the Associated Press.
Pitano reportedly "bristled" at the notion that ESPN was a political organization:
The league and the NFL Players' Association are currently working toward a mutually agreeable policy for conduct during the national anthem, and it is unclear whether a new policy will be unveiled prior to the beginning of the regular season Sept. 6.
Later in his Friday remarks, Pitaro bristled at the notion that ESPN is a political organization, but told reporters the network will continue to cover the intersections of sports and politics and sports and culture.
There is no "intersection" between sports and politics beyond that which is created by ignorant sports reporters looking for content. Sports is sports and politics is politics. The political opinions of players are as irrelevant as those of Hollywood actors or hip-hop artists.
Worse than irrelevant, the opinions of athletes are uninformed. When Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the playing of the anthem, his reasons were spectacularly ignorant:
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
His words were amplified a thousand times over by reporters eager for content and controversy. But the relevance of his opinions is on par with the guy sitting next to you on a bar stool. Fans no more want to hear Kaepernick's notion of "oppression" than they do the drunken bar patron.