NBC Sports host Dan Patrick is one of the few notable people who have had a lengthy, successful run outside ESPN that could match their run inside Bristol. While Patrick became a household name working SportsCenter with Keith Olbermann, he’s continued to have success at NBC by hosting for Football Night in America and the Olympics and with his NBCSN radio show.
But Patrick has never been shy about opening up about ESPN ever since leaving. And this week Patrick spoke about a number of topics in a lengthy interview with Complex. The comments that stood out the most were on the situation with ESPN, Donald Trump, and Jemele Hill. Patrick said that he appreciated and loved Hill and her voice, but remarked that she was fortunate to keep her job for her comments on Twitter.
What Jemele said about the president is wrong from the standpoint of her representing ESPN. If you’re on your own, you can tweet, text, get an airplane and fly a banner…But when you’re inside of ESPN, you’re representing ESPN. As much as I love Jemele and the fact that she has a voice and uses the voice, you also have to understand there can be repercussions and ramifications with using that voice if it’s not used in the context that your employer wants you to use it. I think that’s what happened. She’s lucky and fortunate that she kept her job.
We should all have a voice, but freedom of speech doesn’t mean that there’s freedom of somebody firing you. And that’s where I think she learned a valuable lesson. All of us do with twitter. It’s dangerous It really is. When you hit send, who knows who’s getting it, how they consume it, and what the reaction is going to be?
Patrick’s comments about representing ESPN probably strike at the heart of what ESPN is trying to do by (again) updating their social media policies. Time will tell if A) ESPN can keep any kind of consistency with its employees and social media and B) whether or not it will actually make any difference whatsoever.
Patrick doesn’t have a personal Twitter account unlike many prominent personalties in sports media, and perhaps that’s a reason why. Patrick also went on to say that it’d be helpful to have a copy editor on Twitter and that “you’d probably have 50 percent less tweets if that were the case.” With the polarization on the platform and how quickly things go awry, maybe it’s the best strategy just to stay away. One does wonder if Hill’s comments were made on television or in a column how the story would evolve differently versus it being said on Twitter. Even for someone who isn’t on Twitter, at least Patrick knows the first rule of Twitter.
Patrick also had some interesting about sports and politics that provide the perspective that they have never truly been completely separated from one another. Yes, #sticktosports is a mythical quest to compartmentalize our lives that is just not possible. But with the actions of President Trump and the current climate in which we live, sports and politics are coming closer together and not further apart.
Well, they’re there together. The president has made sure that they’re together. He called out the NFL, called out the players, called out the owners, the anthems. So it’s there. But down through the years, I mean, look at George Bush Sr. He played baseball at Yale; John Kennedy loved backyard football; President Ford was an offensive lineman at Michigan; Richard Nixon was calling a play for the Texas Longhorns. He gave them the national championship. There’s so much that goes on with politicians, politics, and sports. And even more so now. The confluence is here, and we’re not getting further from it. We’re getting closer to it.
Now that President Trump is personally taking credit for getting the UCLA basketball players back to the states after shoplifting charges and demanding a show of gratitude, the mix of politics and sports is going to continue. And if Trump and LaVar Ball actually do cross paths, it might just cause our entire ecosystem to explode.