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The Basement
1 Apr 2023

NextImg:ESPN, A Network That Never Stops Talking About Racism, Ignores Blatant Racism That Doesn't Fit Their Narrative

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When there’s a story in sports where racism is accused, ESPN is generally all over it.

Not enough black head coaches in the NFL? Racism. Duke volleyball player thinks she heard a fan say something? Racism. White guy wins NBA MVP? Racism. Bubba Wallace finds a rope in his garage? Racism.

Yet, when a black umpire accuses a black head coach and black fans of calling him an “Uncle Tom” and favoring a white team? Nothing.

ESPN reported the story, sure. But they left out almost all of the damning accusations brought forth by said umpire.

OutKick reported the story on Thursday. College baseball umpire Reggie Drummer alleged that Mississippi Valley State’s head coach, and his brother, used racially-charged language towards him.

Drummer says that some fans called him an “Uncle Tom” and head coach Milton Barney’s brother — not associated with the team other than as a fan — said that Drummer is “not a real [n-word].”

Whoa. Those are some pretty strong words. Someone used the n-word towards a sports figure and ESPN fails to mention it at all? Something seems wrong, doesn’t it?

Drummer says that Barney himself implied that as a black umpire, he should have been favoring MVSU instead of their predominately white opponents with a white head coach.

“He said, ‘look at you. You’re one of us,’” Drummer said. “That’s when he was implying that as a black guy, I should be helping them win.”

Umpire Reggie Drummer accused Mississippi Valley State players, coaches and fans of racism, but ESPN virtually ignored the story.

Boy, that sounds like some actual racism. A black head coach believes a black umpire should make favorable — and incorrect — calls to favor a black team simply because they share a skin color?

Yet, ESPN’s headline of the story reads: “Umpire Reggie Drummer regrets ‘lapse of judgment’ on viral call.”

Hmmm. A story brimming with racism accusations and ESPN leads with that? Drummer did say he showed a “lapse of judgment” but that’s not the crux of his comments. Not in the slightest.

In fact, Drummer’s full quote about that judgment is as follows: “But by this time, my lapse of judgment is through the roof because I was sitting here saying, ‘I can’t believe my own people have treated me like this for three hours.’”

So for three hours, black fans, players and coaches made this black umpire feel bad because he wasn’t helping them win. And ESPN focuses on the “lapse of judgment” part of the comments? They did include the full quote above in the story, but they didn’t really provide the context.

Like this quote from Drummer: “Have I been in hostile environments? Yes. Because fans are going to chirp, fans are going to be fans. But never with racism involved. Never.”

He used the word “racism” right in the quote. Nowhere to be found in ESPN’s story.

This is about as close as ESPN got to the meat of the story:

“Drummer, who is Black, said that fans of Mississippi Valley State, a Historically Black College and University, used specific racial slurs toward him,” ESPN’s story reads.

“I’m not upset,” he said. “I’m more hurt because I’m getting all this from my people when I know I’m calling a good game, I’m calling a fair game.”

But nothing about those racial slurs? That the coach’s brother used the n-word? That he was called an “Uncle Tom”?

What about Drummer getting Barney’s brother ejected and telling the opposing team’s manager “Blake [Dean, UNO’s head coach], I don’t mind fans chirping, that’s part of baseball. But I don’t go with cheating, and I don’t go with racism. Racial slurs are being thrown, they’re being said.”

No, you won’t find that quote in the ESPN story. Instead, they focus on Drummer’s apology and downplay the reason for his behavior. That he was so disgusted with his treatment he made a call to end the game so he could get out of a bad situation.

All of the elements are there. Except the key one: the racism wasn’t perpetrated by white people.

That’s the missing piece here. Had New Orleans’ white manager said similar things, this story would be all over ESPN.

Instead, it got one small article that quickly moved down the page.

No discussions on First Take. Nothing.

Black people being racist towards another black person? No big deal.

“Call us when a white person does something racist,” ESPN, probably.

This is why people aren’t watching and listening to ESPN any more. If a company is going to make its business about going after racists, then they have to go after all racism.

Not just the racism that they believe is more important.

Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ