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Social Justice Messages Likely Gone From NBA Next Year

“What isn’t clear is whether the league originally intended to keep those messages on the court next season, and if public opinion is influencing the decision to remove them.”

Brandon Contes

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According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the league will likely remove all social justice messages from players’ jerseys and the basketball hardwood next season. 

The NBA and NBAPA agreed to restart the season from a bubble in Orlando shortly after George Floyd was unjustly killed, leading to heightened racial tension nationwide. The players felt it was important to use their platform to push for social justice, and the league displayed a unified front by placing “Black Lives Matter” on the court for every game played in the bubble. Joining NBA Countdownearlier this week, commissioner Silver noted that he doesn’t expect those messages to be displayed next season. 

“I would say, in terms of the messages you see on the court and our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time when we began these discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer,” Silver said. “My sense is there’ll be somewhat a return to normalcy, that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor.”

What isn’t clear is whether the league originally intended to keep those messages on the court next season, and if public opinion is influencing the decision to remove them. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported that not all NBA owners were in favor of adding Black Lives Matter to the court, but Silver recognized the timing and importance of supporting a league comprised mostly of Black players. 

TV ratings have been down since the league restart in late July and it’s culminated into record low audiences during the NBA Finals. There are a multitude of reasons and explanations for the ratings decline, but some have blamed the NBA’s stance on social issues for the down viewership.

Outkick’s Clay Travis has led the mob in criticizing the NBA for its messages of social justice, and recently Texas Senator Ted Cruz joined him which drew ire from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. “Personally speaking, this is the first time in years that I haven’t watched a single game in the NBA Finals. #GoWokeGoBroke” Cruz tweeted. 

It’s certainly possible that BLM messaging has impacted the NBA’s TV ratings with some fans preferring a “stick to sports” policy, but they’re also not the only league experiencing down viewership during the pandemic. Empty arenas, shifted seasons and competing schedules all played a role in the ratings dip for nearly every sport. But there’s no hiding the fact that NBA viewership has been largely abysmal in the last two months.

Sports TV News

Notre Dame AD: NBC Deal With Big Ten is “Perfect” For Irish

“But it’s also perfect for Notre Dame,” Swarbrick said.

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Jack Swarbrick

While not official, there has been strong reporting that the Big Ten conference has decided which broadcast entities would be awarded media rights for their football and basketball games. One of those partners appears to be NBC who also has a partnership with Notre Dame thru 2025.

On Wedneday, Notre Dame’s Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick held a live chat for the school’s alumni association. On that chat, the subject of the recent Big Ten media rights deal came up. He praised Commissioner Kevin Warren and called the Big Ten’s strategy brilliant and added that it’s great for college football because it gives networks inventory and now an incentive to produce around it. He also said when the value of the deals was announced, it’d be “pretty amazing” for the conference.

He then discussed how it fit with Notre Dame’s outlook on television media rights.

“But it’s also perfect for Notre Dame,” Swarbrick said. “We need NBC to have more college football to more effectively promote our games and to talk about our games and to have NBC be seen in that light. So that was great for us that they got a big piece of this.”

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Sports TV News

Louis Riddick Signs Contract Extension With ESPN

He will be on the network’s Thursday night college football package.

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Football analyst Louis Riddick has signed a new extension to continue his career with ESPN.

The network made the announcement on Wednesday when announcing their broadcast teams for the 2022 college football season. In that release, it was revealed that Riddick would be returning to the college football booth for the first time since 2019.

He will be on the network’s Thursday night college football package and be partnered with play-by-play commentator Matt Barrie and Harry Lyles Jr.

It was announced earlier this summer that Riddick would also be in the booth for ESPN’s preseason NFL action. He’ll also be in the booth for three weeks that ESPN has multiple games in that week.

Riddick’s first college football game assignment will be the Backyard Brawl game between West Virginia and Pittsburgh and the latter has already noted their excitement.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Adds Aaron Murray, Re-Signs Beth Mowins For College Football Coverage

Mowins provides play-by-play on college basketball and softball, and has been the Voice of the Women’s College World Series for more than two decades.

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Aaron Murray, Beth Mowins

ESPN announced the hiring of Aaron Murray to its analyst roster.

Murray, a former quarterback at Georgia and most recently an analyst with CBS Sports Network, will call a handful of games on the SEC Network. He’ll also appear on some of the network’s studio programming.

ESPN also announced the re-signing of play-by-play commentator Beth Mowins to a multi-year deal. In addition to football, Mowins provides play-by-play on college basketball and softball, and has been the Voice of the Women’s College World Series for more than two decades.

ESPN announced the broadcast crews for its college football coverage as well.

Game/NetworkCommentators
ABC Saturday Night FootballChris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Holly Rowe
ESPN Saturday Night PrimetimeSean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Molly McGrath
ESPN and ABC SaturdayJoe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, Katie George
ESPN and ABC SaturdayMark Jones, Robert Griffin III, Quint Kessenich
ESPN and ABC SaturdayDave Pasch, Dusty Dvoracek, Tom Luginbill
ESPN and ABC SaturdayBob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, Kris Budden
ESPN and ABC SaturdayDave Flemming, Rod Gilmore, Tiffany Blackmon
ESPN and ESPN2 SaturdayAnish Shroff, Brock Osweiler, Taylor McGregor
ESPN and ESPN2 SaturdayBeth Mowins, Kirk Morrison, Stormy Buonantony
ESPN ThursdayMatt Barrie, Louis Riddick, Harry Lyles Jr.
ESPN and ESPN2 FridayRoy Philpott, Andre Ware, Paul Carcaterra
ESPN and ESPN2 SaturdayBrian Custer, Dustin Fox, Lauren Sisler
SEC Saturday NightTom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
ACC Network PrimetimeDave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Kelsey Riggs
SEC NetworkDave Neal, Deuce McAllister, Andraya Carter
SEC NetworkTaylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb, Alyssa Lang
ACC NetworkWes Durham, Roddy Jones, Taylor Davis
ACC NetworkChris Cotter, Mark Herzlich, Lericia Harris
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayClay Matvick, Rocky Boiman, Dawn Davenport
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayKevin Brown, Hutson Mason
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayJohn Schriffen, Rene Ingoglia
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayDrew Carter, TBD
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayConnor Onion, Craig Haubert
Longhorn NetworkLowell Galindo, Sam Acho, Alex Chappell
ESPNU Thursday – HBCUTiffany Greene, Jay Walker
ESPN Radio Marc Kestecher, Kelly Stouffer, Ian FitzsimmonsMike Couzens, Max Starks

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