With its recent round of layoffs, ESPN has largely ceased serious coverage of hockey. Apparently it regards covering the fourth most popular sport in the U.S. as a frill.
But in ESPN’s eyes, not all frills are created equal. Hence, its new site for woman ESPNW, recently ran a feature called ““Five Poets on the New Feminism.” The “world wide leader in sports” doesn’t have much time for ice hockey (too white?), but has plenty for “new feminism” and for, in its words, “reflect[ing] on resistance. . . .”
Nor was ESPN kidding when it mentioned “resistance.” One of the poems ESPNW featured paid “homage to a convicted cop killer.”
The poem, “Revolution” by DeMaris Hill, opened with the dedication “for Assata Shakur.” It thus honored the Black Liberation Army member who has been hiding out in Cuba to avoid finishing a prison term for killing a police officer.
As Fox News Entertainment’s Cody Derespina reminds us, Shakur, aka Joanne Chesimard, is the godmother of the late rapper Tupac Shakur. She is suspected in a series of early 1970s incidents linked to black revolutionary groups in New York City, including a bank robbery, grenade attack and the ambushing of police officers in Queens and Brooklyn.
Ms. Shakur was convicted of fatally shooting a New Jersey trooper in the head in 1973, but escaped prison and, in the early 1980s, fled to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum. She is on the list of the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists.
ESPN eventually pulled the poem. In one breath, it claimed that “there was an oversight in the editorial process for selecting the poems.” In the next, it said that “upon further review we have decided [the poem] is not an appropriate selection for our site.” To me this suggests there was no oversight. ESPN initially decided that Hill’s poem would do just fine — and why not; it has everything to do with “resistance” — but then changed its mind, presumably under pressure.
Did the editor who committed the “oversight” keep her job, even as sharp sports analysts like Scott Burnside and Eamonn Brennan lost theirs? I don’t know, but nothing I’ve read indicates that the editor suffered any adverse employment action.