Gail Sideman Publicity


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Race, sports and Dan Le Batard

This took me awhile to post. It’s a sensitive topic. I don’t know sports reporter Dan Le Batard, but I felt his passion and purpose when he ranted against a political-turned-racial rally last week. 

That he spoke in a tone not approved by libraries anywhere is not newsworthy. That it was about a hate-infusedpresidential gathering, the chaos of race relations that’s merged with politics, and ESPN’s policy to not talk about them on-air, was.

Not long ago I spoke to young broadcasters at an NSMA event about this very subject. Someone asked if it was acceptable to talk about religion and politics on his sports talk show. I said that he would be best to avoid them, unless it was his brand and the show’s foundation was solid based on that brand. That went for whatever he posted on social media as well. Doing any of these regularly on shows that focus on first downs and wacky free agencies could get anyone into a public relations nightmare they may not be able to shake.

Not breaking news— I changed my thinking during the last few years. While I don’t think a sports talk show should make race and politics part of daily or weekly rundowns, we should not pretend that they, mostly race and sports, aren’t intertwined. They have been for decades

Sports + 

During the last few years, Americans have become – or I should say, have felt freer to express – hatred against people of color, gay people, women people and those who don’t practice religions they claim righteous. There is a segment of America that finds it acceptable to be openly and dangerously racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic and lots of other phobics. We have seen this play before. Athletes have long rallied against injustices, often with “shut up and dribble” responses from a segment of the public. Sometimes we (and I’m adding a general population to athletes) feel complicit if we stay quiet, or we simply get tired of inequalities in a country that’s purported to provide “liberty and justice for all.”

The recent rally, which used racial implications to fuel a political base, may have been a trigger for Le Batard, whose family exiled from Cuba to the degree he felt he could not remain quiet, despite ESPN’s policy. I’ve been in a place where I thought that speaking up wasn’t good PR for this publicist, but I couldn’t stay silent when innocent people were being horribly mistreated. I had to consider that current and potential clients could be reading or listening. Yet if they were going to hate, did I really want to work with them anyway? 

Listen, think then speak

We’re human. Before we became whatever we chose to do for a living, we were people with histories. My suggestion is that before we speak publicly about a topic we know may be controversial, we know facts and context. We have to ask ourselves: will airing a grievance help someone? Will it change things for the better? If we don’t speak up against misinformation and those set to harm in some way, who will? 

Business and life

Professionals in all businesses straddle a fine line. We’re hired to do a job for a company or client, yet we bring our professional experiences along with personal backgrounds to work with us each day. Le Batard’s upbringing addd credible and historical significance to sports media. He can offer thoughts on topics that many of us will only read in books. Let’s hear him out when he veers from sports. Agree or disagree respectfully. It’s a lot less taxing and certainly healthier than hating. 

I’d love to know your [respectful] thoughts. Again, we may not agree with one another, and that’s fine. Let’s talk. Even better, let’s listen. 


©Gail Sideman, 2019

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