An internal ESPN memo mandated neutrality when dealing with the China-Hong Kong conflict after National Basketball Association general manager Daryl Morey made a pro-Hong Kong tweet last week that angered the Chinese government, according to a Deadspin report.
Morey, who is the general manager of the Houston Rockets team, wrote a tweet that was published on Oct. 4, saying, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” Although he deleted the comment shortly after he posted it, the backlash from China was immediate and severe.
Tencent, the digital rights holder of NBA in China, updated after they announced blacklist of Daryl Morey due to his 'Free HK' tweet: They will suspend all reports/streaming of Houston Rockets. Rockets subscribers are eligible to change service. NBA China market in trouble. pic.twitter.com/PGjWoZ8uPq
— Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) October 6, 2019
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a weak statement after the controversy grew, in an obvious attempt not to alienate the Chinese market that they see as a growing revenue stream.
“Over the last three decades, the NBA has developed a great affinity for the people of China. We have seen how basketball can be an important form of people-to-people exchange that deepens ties between the United States and China,” Silver said in his statement.
“At the same time, we recognize that our two countries have different political systems and beliefs. And like many global brands, we bring our business to places with different political systems around the world,” he added.
ESPN, the Disney-owned television network that has helped turn the NBA into a worldwide phenomenon, is taking a similarly pro-China stance regarding the conflict, and it is represented in their programming.
“Daryl Morey, a good man, an exceptional executive, and a conscientious human being, what were you thinking speaking up on this issue?” commentator Stephen A. Smith asked on his ESPN radio show. “It’s about a multitude of people that extends far beyond yourself that you have compromised because you had this insatiable appetite to disseminate a tweet. You don’t know better than that?”
“Daryl Morey had an obligation to think about the Houston Rockets organization and about the National Basketball Association before himself,” Smith added.
“People on both sides of this issue, whether you are in mainland China, Hong Kong, or around the world feel strongly about their positions. And I think it’s important for all of us to read about it and understand what is going on,” sportswriter Ramona Shelburne said during ESPN’s Around the Horn.
However, one man apparently didn’t get the memo. Sports reporter Kevin Blackistone, who had previously been a world news reporter in the 1980s and early 1990s, actually had the courage to address the issue of Chinese-backed tyranny in Hong Kong.
“I don’t think it was a mistake for Daryl Morey to express his sympathy for a movement against authoritarianism being implemented into Hong Kong. A struggle that has been going on now for four months, that reportedly has injured 1,100 people, reportedly now has live gunfire in the streets, which has injured a couple of people, which reportedly has left a journalist covering all this blind. This is a very serious situation,” he added.
ESPN’s example shows how corporate America is firmly behind globalism, and will mute criticism of the Chinese despotism if they feel it enriches their bottom line.
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Pro-Trump UFC Fighter Offers to Fight on White House Lawn During Coronavirus Pandemic
Colby Covington wants to put on a show for his fans.
While most professional sports have shut down, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is still hoping to put on mixed martial arts fights during the coronavirus pandemic.
UFC promoter Dana White intends to put on his UFC 249 pay-per-view broadcast next month despite major problems in finding a venue and fighters willing to participate in the event. He refuses to say where the event, which is scheduled to take place on Apr. 18, will ultimately take place.
“Believe me, people have been talking about that,” White said of the potential for holding UFC 249 on an aircraft carrier. “I haven’t resorted to that yet, but that’s probably coming soon.”
White, an avid supporter of President Donald Trump who hosted the President at a UFC event last year, blames the fake news media for making it so difficult for him to promote a fight during the pandemic.
“A lot of these media guys are absolute and total f**king scumbags,” he said. “As soon as you let them know what you’re doing, all they’re trying to do is f**k up everything that you’ve worked. So I’ve literally told every one of these guys to go f**k themselves and I’m not telling any of them what I’m doing, where I’m doing it.”
Former UFC champion and outspoken bad boy Colby Covington has a suggestion for White on where to hold the event: the White House lawn. Covington offered to fight another former UFC champion Tyron Woodley in a free exhibition at any time.
“The offer still stands UFC. I’ll go full Teddy Roosevelt & beat the breaks off Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley live from The White House lawn! Save sports and make it free on ESPN for the people! Im in such a giving mood I’ll even arrange a tour of the oval office for Tyrone, since Obama never did,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.
Covington is one of the most outspoken Trump supporters in all of professional sports, building his entire public image around his support of the President.
“The haters are saying I’m the underdog,” Covington said in 2018. “You know who else was the underdog? The ruler of our nation Donald Trump. And just like Trump I’m gonna grab these p**sies and put them in their place.”
In an iconic photograph, Covington can be seen presenting his former UFC title to President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.
“He didn’t have to spend as much time as he did with us, and he legitimately gave us 30 minutes – just (expletive), told us some funny stories, he likes chicks, he likes wrestling, he likes MMA. And he was just telling us stories and just being a regular guy. He’s down to earth. He’s just a regular guy,” Covington said following his meeting with the President.
Covington hopes to make the UFC great again, and give lockdown-weary Americans something to excite them, with a patriotic display of ultimate fighting outside of the White House.
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