ESPN’s Jemele Hill is reportedly planning an exit from the cable sports network, claiming that she wants to focus on issues of race and gender.
Hill made her announcement from the stage Sunday at OZY Fest held over the weekend in New York City, according to OZY.com.
The soon-to-be former sports personality told the audience that she would no longer “stick to sports” and will leave ESPN to go into commentary about race and gender full time.
“Even before everything happened, I was already in the mindset of wondering what was next,” she said. Hill added that she intended to leave at the end of her latest contract, but her suspension and the backlash against her constant activism “have made me think about it sooner and [to] plot out what the next 10–15 years of my life would be.”
Indeed, Hill claimed that she cares less about sports every day. “As much as I’d like to tell you about Golden State’s latest game or tell you about why Jacksonville can win the Super Bowl, some days I just didn’t give a shit because of everything else that was happening in this country,” she said.
Hill also said she feels that being black is now more important than reporting on sports:
“There’s many a day I wish I could punch a button and just say, ‘I’m not going to be Black today. I’m not going to be a woman today,'” she said. But then she insisted she doesn’t have that luxury. She also complained that sports fans do not understand that “it’s never just been about sports. Jackie Robinson integrated baseball 20 years before the civil rights act passed.”
Hill has two more years on her contract but told the audience that she might seek to exit early because she is tired of being held back by ESPN’s no-politics rules.
Still, even as she told the OZY Fest audience that the network was quashing her opinion and even as she complained about her suspension, Hill has never really faced any repercussions for her daily political outbursts. She has freely given her opinion on the air and in interviews and has not refrained from making political posts on social media. If ESPN has rules against political outbursts,one could never tell by Hill’s actions.
In fact, Hill has increased her political activism since her one suspension in October of 2017 after she urged fans to boycott the Cowboys’ advertisers.
Despite her actual experience at ESPN, Hill told the audience that black women “always had to take the back seat to everything,” and exclaimed that women “still have to deal with sexual violence and misogyny.” She added that “institutionalized racism” is “items 1-10” on the list of things she wants to highlight.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.