This auction on ESPN provoked lots of backlash.

A sketch ESPN created to promote fantasy football produced some major backlash Tuesday, forcing the company to eventually apologize (albeit in a limited way), and leading to later criticism from the likes of Giants’ receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and others. This was done as part of their returning fantasy football marathon, but it didn’t get the expected result. Here’s the sketch, which featured a live “auction” with fantasy football experts holding up paddles to bid on different players:

This took a lot of criticism, especially for its seeming similarity to historical slave auctions:

Here’s the statement ESPN sent to BlackSportsOnline’s Robert Littal and others after this took major criticism:

“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.”

That’s a pretty halfhearted apology, though, and it’s notable that ESPN was put on further blast by Beckham after a follower tweeted this sketch at him:

It’s understandable how ESPN came up with this concept; as their statement notes, auction drafts are a thing in fantasy football. But it’s also very understandable why this took backlash, and why the optics of a bunch of people who were mostly white men explicitly bidding on a black athlete in an in-person auction didn’t look great to the wider world. This didn’t accomplish what ESPN intended, and for that alone, it should have been more carefully considered.

[Jessie Karangu on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.

  • Dale Moog

    The Faux outrage over this is sickening. people GO grow a pair and stop being a bunch of babies. Do we really think ESPN was making a Slave reference. NO, well then why are you so offended. Is it because you are soft spoiled little bitches who have to be angry at everyone so you can feel better about yourselves. I am sorry for all of you who claim offense to this. It was harmless. They are not racist. This is a fantasy football draft. And as for people who have no place to claim outrage it is Football players. They allow themselves to be treated like slaves EVERY YEAR it is called the Combine and the Draft. Sports are the only marketplace where a skilled worker has NO direct say in where they are allowed to work when the fist start employment. The employers,based on predetermined formula,have a system where they select what employee they want from a pool of applicants. Now you do not have to place yourself in that pool, they would argue, but if you do not you give up the right for millions of dollars. Also A player is evaluated just like a slave would have been at something that is NOW on TV everyday for a Week.The combine is nothing more than a Slave inspection if we want to keep this stupid analogy going. I mean you go there and they weigh you,they measure your hand size, they measure how strong you are,they measure how fast you can run, they measure how high you can jump. These are things they might have done with slaves. Football players are treated way worse than any other athletes as far as how much freedom they have given up and how much they are trampled on by the employer;but yet these same players have the nerve to call ESPN racist holding an auction in a fake fantasy football draft. I mean anyone who screams about optics take a look in the mirror. If you think that ESPN is racist because of optics then you clearly must think you are nothing more than a Slave by those same optics and that the NFL by extention is a slave owner and is the racist that we must call out and destroy. Because, according to these people who are worried about optics, their may be nothing worse than being a racist. So if I carry this argument further Mr. Beckham should retire from football now, because he is offended at the optics of racism; and things EVERYTHING that has the slightest possible negative tint of possible racism should be quickly called out and be shouted down. Again caring that same logic the NFL could look like a racist plantation, so they should be destroyed. OH,but wait Mr. Beckham makes millions of dollars playing in the NFL. So he is OK with the OPTICS as long as he is getting paid. What a POS he has exposed himself to be.

  • sportsfan365

    Bring back ping pong and lumberjack competitions!

  • Ahchoo3

    Nah, it’s only cool for the “actual owners” to sell and trade slaves, I mean players…..

  • markvidpa

    No, actually, it’s not understandable why there is outrage over this.

  • Kres

    Yeah, but what about the optics of it?

  • Jeff

    After reading this you should get the idea about how and why Trump won the election last year. This is getting to be insane with people always finding a way to be a victim

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