During the depths of Covid, there was a small dust up between reporters Rachel Nicols and Maria Taylor over who covered the NBA Finals that year. Nicols, who is White, and Taylor, who is Black, never fought it out in the halls, it was strictly a corporate decision....
A corporation decision that landed in the New York Times:
A Disparaging Video Prompts Explosive Fallout Within ESPN. Because there's a paywall, I'll just give you the money quote: "ESPN is 'Feeling Pressure' on Diversity. "
Hmmm, in the year 2021, why would there be pressure on ESPN? Fast Forward 2 years.
Recent ESPN On-Air Layoffs:
Jeff Van Gundy
I just want to add a few personal opinions about the talent itself:
Suzy Kolber - That layoff made me the saddest. I thought she had earned the right to leave on her own terms when she was ready.
Todd McShay - I thought he was terrible. I wish I could have taken a picture of security walking him to the exit so I could post it in my office.
Jeff Van Gundy - TNT clearly has the better basketball show, but Van Gundy was the highlight, not the problem, for ESPN's basketball coverage.
Chris Chelios - Just a reminder, he's one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players of a All Time. That insight will be hard to replace.
Jalen Rose - He was nothing special, I can think of numerous other potential candidates...`
Which brings us to the crux of the article. Is ESPN simply slicing positions, or are they diversifying? Let's use Chelios and Steve Young as our examples. ESPN traditionally treats hockey poorly, if you want good coverage, you need to hope Barry Melrose is on or you have to go to Canada. It is entirely feasible that the corporate overlords at ESPN were simply slicing positions in their hockey coverage to save money and Hall of Famer Chris Chelios was a casualty.
But the NFL is another animal. I find it VERY (*) hard to believe that ESPN is trimming their NFL coverage by one cent. I also find it hard to believe that there's going to be one less chair where Hall of Famer Steve Young used to sit. This layoff is especially surprising considered that Young just got a contract extension 10 months ago. So watch this Fall and see if ESPN goes with a "fresh face" like Donovan McNabb or Cam Newton a few weeks before the season starts.
Your angle is that I am speculating? You can't lay off a bunch of people from one group one day and then hire a bunch of people from a different group the next, that would be too obvious. But when the NFL starts again in the Fall, see what ESPN's coverage team looks like from the studio, to the draft, to the sidelines compared to last year.
From three months ago:
Straight from ESPN's Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
(*) When we say VERY, what we mean is very, very, very, very, very, very, very.