The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz put ESPN on blast this week for not taking action against UFC fighter Sean Strickland over his recent derogatory comments about women and the LGBTQ community.
Strickland drew widespread criticism for wearing a t-shirt that said “Women belong in the kitchen” and making other offensive remarks denigrating women and LGBTQ people. He wore the shirt to a recent UFC event while UFC President Dana White and former President Donald Trump were in attendance.
On his show, LeBatard called out ESPN specifically for giving Strickland a platform by airing his fights on ESPN+ pay-per-view without condemning his actions.
“I would challenge ESPN to make a public statement on this because that kind of hate is going over their airwaves,” LeBatord said. “The Walt Disney Company. What would are you a chickens**t that you allow this with impunity regularly?”
He argued that ESPN and parent company Disney market themselves as inclusive, family-friendly brands, which conflicts with profiting off Strickland’s fights without denouncing his offensive speech.
“Disney is a company. Take family out of it. This is revolting. You have that guy’s last name on a pay per view. At the very least, condemn it,” LeBatard implored.
The longtime ESPN personality said the network needs to show courage and take a stand, rather than staying silent and normalizing Strickland’s “vile hatred.”
So far, ESPN has not issued any statement on Strickland’s comments or actions. The UFC also has not disciplined Strickland over the incidents.
LeBatard’s public challenge puts pressure on ESPN to walk the walk when it comes to inclusive values. He wants to see real condemnation of derogatory speech, not just platitudes about equality and tolerance.