March 15, 2023

The latest episode of “The Press Box” podcast on The Ringer made a good point.

Host Bryan Curtis and guest Jason Gay, the sports columnist of The Wall Street Journal, were talking about the BBC controversy involving soccer analyst Gary Lineker. After criticizing Britain’s new asylum policy on Twitter, Lineker was suspended by the BBC.

But then the weekend soccer coverage was thrown out of whack when so many other BBC soccer broadcasters, as well as some soccer players, boycotted the network to show their support for Lineker.

Curtis and Gay mentioned that there have been some high-profile suspensions of American sports broadcasters. While those suspended might have had vocal support from colleagues, can you remember widespread boycotting or refusals to work in a sign of solidarity?

The most high-profile example might have been the time when ESPN suspended Jemele Hill for two weeks in 2017 after comments she made on Twitter. A month after Hill called then-President Donald Trump a white supremacist, Hill criticized Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said he would bench any players who “disrespect the flag.” Hill suggested that if anyone strongly opposed Jones’ stance, they should boycott his advertisers.

At the time, Hill was co-hosting “SportsCenter” and her co-host Michael Smith did sit out a show while she was suspended. But there certainly was not a massive boycott and a disruption of coverage, like the one we saw over the weekend after the BBC suspended Lineker.

As Curtis said on the pod, “I don’t remember mass numbers of them saying, ‘If she’s not on the air, I’m not.’”

And, looking back, it’s too bad that Hill didn’t have the kind of support Lineker received from colleagues.

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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