BRISTOL — ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro help a press conference in Bristol and told the media across the country and the globe, the network will not televise the National Anthem during their broadcast of NFL games.
In doing so, it will avoid potential controversy over showing players kneeling in protest of racial inequality.
“Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem,” said Pitaro.
Pitaro said that ESPN does not see itself as a political organization.
“It’s not our job to cover politics, purely, but we’ll cover the intersection of sports and politics,” Pitaro said.
“When something happens, when the Eagles are disinvited from White House, or when someone takes a knee, if we think newsworthy we’re going to cover it.”
Pitaro touched on the topic because the situation has become a hotly debated subject around the country, going as high as the White House.
Players have been taking a knee during the national anthem to protest injustices toward African-Americans in the U.S.
Donald Trump has made the topic one of his primary talking points on social media and at his rallies. Trump has called any player who takes a knee a “son of a bitch” and said they should be fired.
A rule change was approved by team owners before the start of this preseason, which gives players the protest option of staying in the locker room during the national anthem. Should they take a knee on the field, they will be fined.
The first player to take a knee, igniting the fuse of the explosive debate, was Colin Kaepernick.
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.
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