Words matter. And words by those with the platform to be heard, have proven to matter even more.
ESPN Sportscenter host Jemele Hill sent out a string of controversial tweets last Monday in response to Dallas Cowboys owner’s recent statements. Jerry Jones said Sunday that any player that is caught “disrespecting the flag” would not be allowed to play.
Throughout the NFL, many players have taken it upon themselves to protest the racial injustices of American society by either kneeling or sitting during the national anthem. These acts have caught national attention and have sparked outrage from both NFL fans and the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
Hill, a longtime advocate for these protests, took to Twitter to criticize Jones’ statements and send a message to fans of the NFL.
“Jerry Jones also has created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones. If they don’t kneel, some will see them as sellouts.”
“If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers. Don’t place the burden squarely on the players.”
As the football season has progressed, the Dallas Cowboys have kept a mostly united front in terms of these protests, and the majority of the players have chosen to stand during the anthem. However, the NFL Network recently reported that after Jones’ comments, this issue that had not received much attention in the locker room up to now, has recently become a major talking point. Players are now upset that kneeling for the national anthem is no longer an option. This was escalated by Hill’s tweets that blamed Jones for making his African-American players feel like “sellouts” for no longer having the option to kneel.
This exchange caught the attention of President Trump who has been keeping a close eye on the NFL as of late. In keeping with his message, the president commented on Hill’s statements, again on Twitter, supporting Jones and the ultimatum he gave his players. A day later, Hill was suspended from ESPN.
ESPN claimed that her suspension was due to a second violation of their social media guidelines, but failed to explain exactly which guidelines had been broken. Just last month, Hill took to Twitter to call President Trump a white supremacist, and received backlash from Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who called for her to be fired from ESPN.
This most recent action taken by ESPN against Hill has once again left many to question the role of politics within the sporting world. Not only was Hill on her private Twitter account, but she was expressing her own political views without referencing her position within ESPN in any way. To many, her suspension is seen as ESPN expressing their opinion on the matter of the protests, but Hill doesn’t seem to be backing down. As of now, her tweets condemning both Trump and Jones have not been deleted.