ESPN recently broadcast a live fantasy football "auction" in which a fast-talking auctioneer held up pictures of players on sticks and had audience members bid on them. Sure, yes, there is a popular fantasy football auction format in which fantasy players get a set amount of money to spend on their roster.
But it's still hard to imagine who at the network decided that the prospect of a white auctioneer holding up pictures of black men for (mostly) white men to bid on was a good idea.
Because it sure looked like a slave auction — and ESPN has faced the deserved backlash. ESPN released a statement to The Big Lead that read, "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."
Read Michael Rand's blog at startribune.com/randball. firstname.lastname@example.org