ESPN can’t make up its mind whether to play politics or not.
Following the firing of Curt Schilling after he ridiculed men using women’s restrooms and the demotion of Mike Ditka immediately after criticizing President Barack Obama, ESPN announced the addition of Vice President Joe Biden to this year’s ESPYs Awards show.
The vice president presents the Jimmy V Perseverance Award to Craig Sager. The longtime Turner Sports broadcaster suffers from leukemia. The award’s namesake, Jim Valvano, lost his battle with cancer in 1993 after coaching North Carolina State to an improbable NCAA championship and serving as a popular college basketball analyst for the network. Biden lost his son Beau to brain cancer last year.
ESPN allowed Sager onto its airwaves in June to share sideline reporting duties with Doris Burke, which enabled the garishly-dressed interviewer to work his first NBA Finals. Though as sharp, genial, and energetic as ever, the 65-year-old Sager appeared gaunt this past season.
“Like Jimmy Valvano, Craig Sager embodies the best of who we are as Americans,” Biden maintained in a statement. “For four decades Craig’s been the go-to-guy on the sidelines for us to better understand a game we love and its place in our culture. But in the real game of life, he’s teaching all of us something bigger—how to live life with purpose, determination, and love. On behalf of all Americans, and cancer patients and their families who he inspires every day, I’m honored to be presenting Craig with an award that reminds us as a nation that we can never give up in our fight to end cancer as we know it.”
Despite punishing Schilling for his sharing his belief on social media that the women’s room should be for females, the network honored Bruce Jenner last year for his decision to transition into “Caitlyn” Jenner. A network memo leaked earlier this year cautioned talent against promoting politicians on the air but ESPN executives consistently aired a program announcing Barack Obama’s NCAA tournament bracket during his presidency and politicized the ESPY Awards through attention-grabbing honors given to Jenner, openly-gay football player Michael Sam, and sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised black-gloved fists at the 1968 Summer Olympics. ESPN programming, such as Outside the Lines, The Sports Reporters, and Pardon the Interruption, continues to promote politicized causes in non sequitur fashion on the sports network.
The ESPY Awards air on ABC this Wednesday evening. WWE wrestler John Cena hosts.