If you've seen this year's most popular horror film, Get Out, you'll immediately understand why ESPN's recent sketch for fantasy football was a complete disaster. The network took a huge hit on social media, after it aired a live "auction draft," in which it sold – wait for it – black players.
As a part of ESPN's fantasy football segment, the network crafted a live auction. Sort of how you would imagine an outdoor auction to be, a group of all-white bidders sat in rows of neatly-lined chairs. Before them, was the auctioneer, who raised up the first player to be "sold," New York Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. And as the auctioneer called out a series of prices, the bidder casually raised their hands to buy Beckham.
Soooooo ESPN just did an "auction" sketch pic.twitter.com/zvezCItems
— Jᴀsᴏɴ (@rjasonscales) August 14, 2017
For some reason, ESPN didn't see the problem with their auction, but Twitter quickly informed them. Many critics quickly called out the racist implications of the sketch, connecting the video to a modern-day version of slavery. "So @espn who's idea was it to auction off football players ?? U guys might wanna address this optic sooner than later," radio host, Ebro tweeted. "Dear @ESPN, Apologize now for doing a sketch where you auctioned a Black man off to the highest bidder," another critic wrote.
Others pointed out how similar the auction was to the scene in Get Out. OBJ also responded to the video after a fan asked him about his thoughts, stating that he was simply, "speechless."
Understanding the error in judgment, ESPN issued a statement to USA Today, apologizing for the sketch. "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. Without that context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize," the network stated.
ESPN may want to run their ideas by a couple of people in the brainstorm room next time.