Over the past two years, as ESPN has seen a decline in viewership, the show has taken up several political stances regarding the kneeling of NFL players during the National Anthem and often glorifying players who refused to visit the White House after a championship win.
ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro may have finally figured out why people have stopped watching his network as he recently told the Los Angeles Times that his “data” points to it being overly political.
Fans want more sports, less politics, Pitaro theorized.
“Without question, our data tells us our fans do not want us to cover politics. My job is to provide clarity. I really believe that some of our talent was confused on what was expected of them. If you fast-forward to today, I don’t believe they are confused,” the ESPN president said.
The National Review reports some of the ESPN officials who often politicized issues have moved on to other networks:
This does not mean that political controversies are gone completely, or will never return to the sports world. Some members of championship teams choose to not attend ceremonies at the White House. The political comments or Tweets of collegiate or pro athletes will continue to generate controversy for content-hungry sports media. But some of the most politically-active sports commentators have moved on to other things.
Jemele Hill has moved from anchoring the 6 p.m. SportsCenter to writing for The Atlantic. Bob Costas departed NBC Sports after 40 years. And Keith Olbermann is not the media force he once was; he’s now grumbling that MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Steve Kornacki haven’t shown enough gratitude towards him.
Twitchy reports several people on Twitter quickly agreed with the ESPN president: