ESPN Delivers World’s Worst TV Segment On Race, Obesity, Healthcare, Football In Mississippi
Henry McKenna 10:05 am, November 15th, 2014
ESPN ran a segment on Mississippi State football and the actual state of Mississippi.
It was, perhaps, the most depressing and misdirected segment produced by ESPN. Pointing out that the state had major race, education, healthcare and obesity problems, the piece pointed towards football as a sort of consolation prize.
The moral of the story was bizarre. It seemed to say, "Well shit, at least they've got football." Or perhaps it was: "Football is changing Mississippi's national image."
Either way, it's incorrect. The Mississippi State Bulldogs won't be the nation's best team forever. Whether it's today, tomorrow or January, the team's standing will shift. And once their team falls back in to SEC mediocrity -- or, even continues to excel -- the state will still have problems with race, obesity and healthcare.
Here's the introduction to the segment.
What. The. Fuck.
What is he even saying? ESPN seems to be jamming together pieces in jigsaw puzzle. And you'll see that these ideas don't really resonate amongst the people ESPN interviews from Mississippi.
The segment chronicled the unrest in Mississippi under the national spotlight when they integrated their state colleges. They interviewed the first black student to attend Mississippi State, Dr. Richard Holmes, who said that 95 percent of the student body accepted him. Then, they interviewed this guy.
Deal with integration? Oh brother.
The narrator (Kirk Herbstreit, I believe) spoke of the embarrassing outside perception of state, Then the director said, cue the cotton fields. Then, they made people talk about it:
Really, that is where an undefeated football team comes in? Where is that exactly? Is it the healthcare or racial issues?
The roster is 85 percent african american, the narrator explains. So the state can root for black people on their football team, but still have trouble tolerating them in social situations. It's OK, though, because they're the No. 1 team in the country. The nation can take comfort in that. So now, when they hear Mississippi, people think of football, not the real problems. That's cool, right?
Here comes three white men and one black man talking about racial and social issues -- oh yeah, and football.
Here -- among other places -- is where it seems like ESPN is grasping for straws. The radio show host says that football isn't a cure-all. So what is it to the state that is "last in a lot of things"? I'd buy that it's uplifting for the community to cheer together. That is included in the early segment -- there's a shared pride for the team that transcends race. That would have been interesting. Yet, this segment shoots for the moon and says that football is something that it's not, and glorifies the idea that it can distract the nation from the real problems.
This was a bizarre segment to break down, so if you have strong feelings about this post (probably anger), tweet at us @SportsGrid or me @McKennAnalysis.
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