Should ESPN Air The NFL National Anthem Protests?

ESPN will not show the national anthem during “Monday Night Football” broadcasts this year, Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN president, revealed. Asked by a reporter if he spoke to the NFL about the rule changes and the national anthem and if he would consider “turning the cameras on an athlete that’s kneeling for the anthem,” Pitaro replied, “We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don’t think there’s going to be any change this year. Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem.”

No, this isn’t an ethics quiz, It’s not because I know the answer. ESPN should be airing the anthem and the likely protests they will include, because of the likely protests they will include. That may surprise you, since Ethics Alarms has been unequivocal in its position that the players are paid to play on Sundays, not exploit games for half-baked and incoherent political statements, that they should be made to observe that distinction, and properly criticized and penalized when they do not. That, however, is a different ethics issue than whether a sports news organization that covers a football game is obligated to also cover news-worthy occurrences that happen during that game. It is. Pitaro’s policy is wrong.

He also pointed out that ESPN usually doesn’t broadcast the anthem. Neither do major league baseball broadcasts unless something or someone special is involved, for the same reason: they sell advertising time instead. Why should the TV audience be able to participate in a brief ritual to honor their nation (which was never that great, as Governor Cuomo reminded us) when there is  money to be made? I miss the anthem—my dad sometimes sang it, horribly off-key because he was tone deaf, right in our living room, drowning out Whitney Houston or the Marine Band as he did—but since it’s always the same music, the decision is defensible although I disagree with it. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce, One Way Or The Other : Former Yankee Slugger Mark Teixeira

Mark and Robbie…

Major League Baseball is still buzzing about the shocking half-season suspension of Seattle Mariners second baseman Robbie Cano, which I wrote about here. Among the more unethical buzzes were the comments from former New York Yankee star Mark Teixeira, now a baseball analyst for ESPN, who played with Cano before he left the Yankees as a free agent. Asked about Cano’s testing positive for an agent used to mask steroid use, Teixeira said,

“Yeah, I don’t really want to get into too much detail. I love Robbie. I’m just not surprised. I don’t really want to go too much further, but I think a lot of people are kind of saying the same thing….Let’s just use this situation here. Robbie Cano’s assistant was on the list for Biogenesis. [Biogenesis was the sports medicine clinic involved MLB’s 2013 PED scandal that resulted in the suspensions of 14 players, including Yankee superstar Alex Rodriquez and former National League MVP Ryan Braun.] Now, of course, [Cano] had an assistant, you know, buy stuff for him. Alex Rodriguez got popped by Biogenesis, and [former Yankees outfielder] Melky [Cabrera] got popped. They were best friends. When someone gets lumped into that group, it’s because there’s evidence. There’s a paper trail. There’s a smoke trail.”

Foul. Continue reading