Behind the scenes with Dan Le Batard
The boundaries between sports and politics have long been nonexistent with famous athletes such as Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown using their platform to raise awareness for issues. The 1968 Olympics saw Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists for the Black Power salute during the medal ceremony.
Even ESPN has dabbled with political talk over the years when it comes to its sports programming.
Now South Florida’s Dan Le Batard has weighed in on the heels of President Donald Trump’s rally in North Carolina, where he didn’t back off his comments regarding the four freshman congresswomen known as the “Squad,” specifically Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), who was born in Somalia and came to America with her parents at an early age.
Trump’s rally featured a chant of “Send her back” from people attending.
That led to Le Batard’s passionate speech on his ESPN radio show Thursday, despite the network’s no-politics policy. As of Friday morning, ESPN had not suspended Le Batard, who was absent for the first hour of his national show airing 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Here’s what he said:
“So, what happened last night. This felt un-American. Basically, a chant, ‘Send her back.’ It’s not the America that my parents came to get for us … There’s a racial division in this country that’s being instigated by the president. And we here at ESPN haven’t had the stomach for that fight because Jemele [Hill] did some things on Twitter, and you saw what happened after that. Then, here, all of the sudden, nobody talks politics on anything unless we can use one of these sports figures as a meat shield in the most cowardly possible way to discuss the subject.
“What happened last night at this rally is deeply offensive. Done by the president of our country. … Nick Wright writes ‘I don’t talk politics on here, but this isn’t political. This is abhorrent, obviously racist, dangerous rhetoric and not calling it out makes you complicit.’ The ‘send her back’ chant and the ‘go back to where you came from’ are so antithetical to what we should be. It is so right what he [Wright] is saying there. It is so wrong what the president of our country is doing, trying to go down getting reelected by dividing the masses at a time when the old white man, the old, rich white man feels oppressed being attacked by minorities. Black people, brown people, women — that’s who we’re going after now. Black people, brown people, women — let’s do it, as the platform.
“That’s what you’re seeing, and the only way we can discuss it around here — because this isn’t about politics, it’s about race — what you’re seeing happening around here is about race being turned into politics. And we only talk about it around here when Steve Kerr or Popovich says something. We don’t talk about what is happening unless there’s some sort of weak cowardly sports angle that we can run it through. When sports has been a place where this stuff changes.”