On Saturday, I watched football for the first time since February. The game was Arkansas State vs. Memphis. ESPN carried it.
I was having a fine time watching a reasonably well played and closely contested game. But then, in the second quarter, the announcing team — Bob Wischusen and Dan Orlovsky — suddenly turned away from football to racial politics.
The two began by saying how wonderful it is that college football players have become politically engaged. They commended the youngsters for trying to change America for the better.
After too much of this, Wischusen and Orlovsky confessed, more or less to their white privilege. They explained that when they were in college, they were oblivious to the racial situation in America. Only recently, it seems, did they see the light.
Are we supposed to care?
The two went on like this for at least five minutes, I think (it seemed even longer). During that time, there was a considerable amount of action on the field including a turnover, if remember correctly. Wischusen and Orlovsky largely ignored all of it while they riffed on political activism, racial justice, and their youthful ignorance.
College football players have every right to speak out about race and politics. ESPN announcers do too. But they shouldn’t do it during sports broadcasts, and certainly not while they are supposed to be calling a game.
I have zero interest in the non-football views of an ex-quarterback and a journeyman sportscaster. I should be able to watch a college football game without being subjected to their political and sociological musings.
Was the imposition of these views a Wischusen-Orlovsky thing or an ESPN thing? The latter, I think. ESPN has adopted something of a “no politics” policy. I don’t think these announcers would have riffed on politics without prior encouragement by the network to depart from policy.
I read that Kirk Herbstreit, one of ESPN’s lead college football commentators, broke down in tears during ESPN’s “College Game Day” show talking about how “the Black community is hurting” and the need for change. This is additional evidence that ESPN has ditched its “no politics” policy in the face of protests and rioting in our cities.
There’s plenty to cry about when it comes to the state of portions of the Black community, but the crying shame isn’t what Herbstreit thinks it is. That’s not surprising. Herbstreit has no expertise in this area. He is no more qualified to opine about race in America than the average man on the street.
Herebstreit is entitled, nonetheless, to say whatever he wants to about this matter, but he shouldn’t do so during broadcasts that are supposed to be about football. When he does, there’s every reason to tune him out.
If this weekend is any guide, I’ll be tuning out ESPN’s broadcasts of college football this season. And I’ll be tuning out college football entirely if, as seems very possible, the rot spreads to other networks.