Black Twitter is not here for ESPN’s “subtle racism” when it comes to how they cover Black and white coaches.
Recently, on its Twitter account for “SportsCenter,” the network tweeted NFL teams had “parted ways” with head coaches Adam Gase of the New York Jets and Doug Marrone of the Jacksonville Jaguars but when it came to San Diego Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, they reported he was “fired.”
The problem? All three men were fired between Sunday night and Monday morning, but Gase and Marrone are white and Lynn is Black. In an article addressing the matter, Robert Littal of Black Sports Online said the tweets exposed the outlet’s “subtle racism.”
“It is a subconscious thing and frankly, ESPN should apologize,” Littal wrote before sharing screenshots of the three tweets. The journalist wasn’t the only one offended by ESPN’s choice of words. Users on Black Twitter called the network out for the dichotomy also.
One user, @504dwatt, tagged the network and reporter Adam Schefter before writing, “you all need to be ashamed of yourselves for continuing systemic racism. yesterday in your tweet you used the words ‘parted ways’ with Doug Marrone and Adam Gase with Anthony Lynn the word ‘fired’ was prevelant (sic)..god—n shame.”
“YO @SportsCenter! We see all trying to be slick. Lynn was ‘fired,’ Gase & Marrone ‘PARTED WAYS!’” tweeted user @pizle23. Another user @ancestoraware added, “@espn #racism It’s the narrative for me.” User @NewCarthageChro added, “Psst… @ESPNLosAngeles @ESPN your racism is showing!”
“It’s the coded language and display of Black people throughout this country’s history. It’s not being sensitive, it’s just calling out bs. If you truly don’t see the difference in how these coaches are conveyed to the public, then you’re lost. It’s literally there,” tweeted user @Chef_Indigo.
“Language Matters @espn Yesterday 3 head coaches were relieved of their duties but apparently only one coach was ‘fired’ Why the inconsistency in language for coach Lynn @SportsCenter This is a i.e of Systemic Racism and the role media plays in helping to fuel it. #racistmedia,” wrote user @Phil_Colon.
One Twitter user pointed out the network’s Twitter account has done the same thing in the past. In a tweet from 2018, the network announced the ouster of head coach Jim Caldwell by saying he was “fired” by the Detroit Lions. However, in 2020, it tweeted the Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia were “relieved of their duties.” Caldwell is Black and Quinn and Patricia are white.
When one ESPN defender asked if Black Twitter was “mad about a word change,” @paynbillz2000 clarified why it was so problematic.
“It’s not about the word change. Not that they may not have deserved it. But @ESPN has a habit of saying the black coaches and gms were fried. While white coaches and gms were relieved of duties or have parted ways,” @paynbilz2000 wrote.
The “SportsCenter” Twitter account has in fact described white sports personnel as fired, as it did on Oct. 11 when the Atlanta Falcons canned both head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff.