Football

Why ESPN is facing criticism after airing a fantasy football segment

The stage for ESPN’s SportsCenter is seen in Bristol, Conn. The sports network issued an apology Tuesday, one day after airing a fantasy football segment that some likened to a slave auction.
The stage for ESPN’s SportsCenter is seen in Bristol, Conn. The sports network issued an apology Tuesday, one day after airing a fantasy football segment that some likened to a slave auction. Associated Press file

Fantasy football is a popular activity in which millions of people participate every year.

Two of the most popular draft styles are snake, where owners select a player then wait as the order ascends then comes back; and auction, where bids are placed on players to help fill rosters.

ESPN aired their version of an auction draft Monday night. To say it was not received well might be an understatement.

The skit received a ton of reaction. Some people likened it to a slave auction, especially with the broadcast coming just days after the racial violence in Charlottesville, Va. Others say a racist connection is a huge stretch.

Despite the differing views, the sports network issued an apology Tuesday.

“Auction drafts are a common part of fantasy football, and ESPN’s segments replicated an auction draft with a diverse slate of top professional football players,” ESPN said in a statement Tuesday. “Without that context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize.”

Critics and backers of the segment took to Twitter to speak out on the issue.

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