ESPN not looking good after ESPY’s gaffe

Aliyah Boston

ESPN not looking good after ESPY’s gaffe
July 29
14:01 2022

ESPN is in somewhat hot water after the situation that just happened because of an ESPY omission. The network initially neglected to invite South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, a nominee for “Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports” because the award was not being televised, but after some pressure from social media backlash, ESPN decided to invite her.  

Boston declined the invitation. In a written statement she stated receiving the ESPY nomination meant the world to her. After not being invited until receiving public backlash, Boston says it “hurt” her. She feels her not being invited initially is part of a bigger problem on how Black women are viewed in sports.

“I’m used to this,” Boston wrote. “It’s just another movement when the disrespect and erasure of Black women is brushed off as a ‘mistake’ or an oversight. Another excuse for why our milestones and accomplishments aren’t a ‘priority’ this time, even now, 50 years after Title IX.

“To every Black girl and every Black woman: no one can take away what God has in store for us. You matter. You are valuable. You are a priority. You are seen, and you are LOVED – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

This entire saga started with South Carolina’s women’s basketball head coach when she called out ESPN last week. Staley wrote a tweet saying, “Like really … who in the room from @espn @ESPYS decided it was a great idea not to invite @MarchMadnessWBB NPOY DPOY … not one person was able to see the uproar this would cause?  There’s definitely something wrong with the makeup of the room … the fight continues …  #WBBSTANDUP.”

To Staley’s point, Boston did have a tremendous junior season at South Carolina that included unanimous National Player of the Year and National Defensive Player of the Year. Boston is arguably the best collegiate female basketball player in the nation and was nominated alongside Florida State soccer player Jaelin Howell, Oklahoma softball player Jocelyn Alo and Boston College lacrosse player Charlotte North.

To be fair to ESPN, the only athlete out of the aforementioned nominees that was invited was Alo because she was nominated for other awards that were a part of the televised ceremony. Several other award nominees were not invited as well, because their awards were also not televised.

It was also reported that the ceremony was held under COVID-19 capacity restrictions and only nominees eligible for awards that will be televised during the primary broadcast received invitations.  

I understand where ESPN is coming from by initially not inviting Boston. However, it still does not make them look good, especially after airing the same category the year before when UConn basketball player Paige Bueckers won the Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports award. ESPN looks even worse when you look back on what Bueckers touched on during her speech.

“To all the incredible Black women in my life, on my teams. To Breonna Taylor and all the lives lost. To those names I have not yet learned but I hope to share – I stand behind you and I will continue to follow you and follow your lead and fight for you guys,” said Bueckers in her speech.

“With the life that I have now as a white woman who leads a Black-led sport and celebrates it here, I want to shine a light on Black women. They don’t get the media coverage they deserve.

Bueckers literally spoke about how Black women’s lack of media coverage in her speech just one year earlier and now ESPN failed at the opportunity to show they were listening to what she stated. It comes off as rather tone deaf and gives credibility to what Boston said in her statement about ESPN.

I am not saying that either party is right or wrong, but honestly I am leaning toward Boston’s side of the argument in this case. For the last year or two, ESPN has been pushing a women’s movement on their network to become more inclusive about their sports coverage. I have seen several commercials and topics about it on their debate shows, but when they had the chance to put some action behind those words, they didn’t in this case.

I don’t blame Boston for not wanting to attend the ESPY show after only receiving an invite after public pressure was put on them. No one ever wants to be invited to something after someone else made them. If you didn’t want her there initially, what made them think that she would attend after the public basically forced them to?

“To be nominated for an ESPY this year meant the world to me and my family,” Boston wrote about her decision not to attend the ESPYs. “While it hurt finding out that they wouldn’t be televising the category despite it being televised last year, and had no intentions for me to attend. … it hurt more to see ESPN change course and invite me only after social media caught wind of it. Respectfully, I declined.”

I just feel with all of the women and minorities working at ESPN, someone involved with the ESPY’s show would have found some way to include Boston and any other premiere female athlete during their show. Their claims to want to showcase more female athletes on their network just falls short. I don’t know all the inner workings of a sports network, but I am sure if they wanted to showcase more females on their network, they would. ESPN can and must do better.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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