ESPN Will Air OJ Simpson’s Thursday Parole Hearing

OJ Simpson
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

It’s no secret that July is the dead-zone in the world of sports. The NFL hasn’t started yet, the NBA just ended, and MLB isn’t really serious yet. However, I wasn’t aware things had become this bad.

ESPN, among other networks, has decided to air O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing from the Lovelock Correctional Facility on Thursday. Not only that, ESPN will lead-in to the parole hearing with a 90-minute special presentation of Outside the Lines, hosted by Jeremy Schaap.

Simpson was convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping in 2008 after attempting to forcibly re-acquire some memorabilia he claims belonged to him. The prosecution offered Simpson a plea deal, which would have limited Simpson’s prison term to less than three years. However, perhaps feeling invincible after not getting convicted in the murder of his wife and Ron Goldman in 1994, Simpson declined the offer, which resulted in the former NFL great having to serve the last nine years in prison.

ESPN is in the ratings business, and no question the O.J. parole hearing will bring a large audience. But how is this a sports story? O.J. Simpson hasn’t played in more than a generation. The most notable and highly-publicized moment of his life, his ride in the white Bronco and the subsequent trial for the murder of his wife and Ron Goldman, had nothing to do with football.

Then again, that time ESPN allowed a college professor to write a fawning story dedicated to a cop killer on their website didn’t have a whole lot to do with sports either.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn