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Opinion: We Will Never Just Stick To Sports

Sports journalists Jemele Hill and Cari Champion display their playful personalities at a photo shoot to promote their talk show called “Stick to Sports”. Photo Courtesy of Bazaar

By Janaé Bradford, Staff Reporter

Amid the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s hard for many Americans to accept the connection between sports and politics. According to Global Sport Matter, over 80% of players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) are people of color and over 70% of the National Football League (NFL) players. 

How are these professionals expected to proceed normally with their daily lives when Black people are dying because of unlawful actions every day? Sports provide an international platform for athletes to demonstrate their support for social change and justice. In the industry, they expect sports journalists to be very careful when discussing their political views, but it’s hard to withhold emotions that people deem “political” when in reality they are just humane.  

Jemele Hill and Cari Champion have experienced uncertainty about how to speak against injustice under a company that tried to monitor their words and silences their voices. This pushback resulted in the two Black women creating their talk show on VICE TV, Stick to Sports, which debuted Aug. 19, 2020, and airs every Wednesday at 10 p.m. (EST). 

Jemele Hill experienced censorship on many occasions for sharing her thoughts on those who contribute to the ignorance of racism in sports. To date, she stands by her words because she believes her sentiments weren’t wrong, but she has learned that Twitter may not be the best outlet. That’s why her show with Champion is imperative to the narrative of Black female journalists in sports and the culture. You rarely see two Black women hosting a sports talk show, directing their content discussed on the show, and expressing their thoughts to the masses. Not only is representation important in the media, but honesty about social issues and the people they are facing is equally important.

People want to separate sports from politics because they use sports as an escape from reality. Hill and Champion refuse to do that because innocent Black people affected by these issues can’t avoid the truth, it’s an involuntary reality for them.

The name of their show is a big slap in the face to those trying to keep the worlds divided. 

Hill and Champion’s goals for the show are to make people comfortable with being uncomfortable. The women will invite guests on their show to have an unfiltered conversation about anything relating to sports. They’ve said things that ESPN would’ve never allowed on the air—opening viewers’ eyes to how different the sports community will be, as many figures are now using their platforms. 

Change is something people have fought for since the beginning of time, and Hill and Champion are contributing to it, no matter who’s fond of it.