ESPN faces backlash for fantasy football auction resembling slave auction

ESPN has been flooding your eyeballs with fantasy football coverage lately, and as part of that the network did a live “auction” in which they had a real fast-talking auctioneer hold up pictures of players on sticks and had audience members bid on them.

Sure, yes, there is a popular fantasy football auction format in which fantasy players get a set amount of money to spend on their roster.

But it’s still hard to imagine who at the network decided that the prospect of a white auctioneer holding up pictures of black men for (mostly) white men to bid on was something that would look good on television.

Because, you know, it sure looked like a slave auction — at least to some people, who are not wrong. Take a look for yourself below:

ESPN released a statement to The Big Lead that read basically as a “sorry if we offended anyone” sort of thing.

Here it is: “Auction drafts are a common part of fantasy football, and ESPN’s segments replicated an auction draft with a diverse slate of top professional football players,” the network said. “Without that context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize.”

Hey, ESPN: You’re in the television business. How things appear is your reality. Do better.

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