How the National Anthem Controversy Is Reshaping the World of Sports TV


The national anthem controversy is reshaping the world of sports TV for one simple reason: it has muddied the waters between the political world and the sports world. A hot-button issue like the national anthem controversy forced people to choose sides – and it’s now clear that sports TV networks are unwilling to take a principled stand if it means taking a direct hit to their pocketbooks.

As long as cable TV networks like ESPN were literally minting money, they could afford to take sides. But now, at a time when subscribers are down and cable TV viewers are cutting the cord forever, sports TV networks are doing everything in their power to hold on to all and any viewers. In short, ESPN and other sports networks are willing to compromise on the type of content they offer and how they present it, all in the name of ratings and subscribers.

The national anthem controversy goes from sideshow to national debate topic

Starting in 2016, the national anthem controversy – sparked almost entirely by the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to take a knee during the national anthem instead of standing – had been bubbling over. A handful of other athletes took the similar step of kneeling instead of standing during sporting events, but it was mostly a sidelight – not the main course. These acts of defiance received attention from networks like ESPN, but these networks could take a neutral stance on whether it was good or bad for professional sports.

However, when President Donald Trump weighed in on the matter, encouraging NFL owners to bench any players not standing for the national anthem during the season, the issue took on a life of its own. Suddenly, it was all over the news. It was front-page news, and people had to take sides. Sports TV networks began building up the drama of any sporting event they televised by pondering aloud, “Who’s going to kneel this week?” And people started debating what the act of kneeling really meant: Was it a sign of solidarity, a sign of protest, or a sign of disrespect?

NFL-national anthem

The Jemele Hill controversy: ESPN vs. the White House

To understand how deeply the national anthem controversy has started to reshape the world of sports TV, Exhibit A has to be the Jemele Hill controversy, involving the African-American host of “SC6,” the 6pm version of Sports Center featuring her and Michael Smith. The two are paid to have strong opinions about the world of sports – but not necessarily to have strong opinions about the world of politics and culture.

Jemele Hill pushed the limits of how far an on-air host could go by publicly tweeting that President Trump was a “white supremacist” who surrounded himself with other “white supremacists.” That, of course, did not go over well with the White House, with President Trump’s press team suggesting that such a comment was a “fireable offense” for ESPN. The strong insinuation was that ESPN should simply fire Jemele Hill.

As if that did not go far enough, Jemele Hill continued to push against the boundary of the permissible. Her next act was to go after Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones after he suggested that any Cowboys player not standing for the national anthem would be benched.

Jemele Hill punched right back, suggesting that outraged fans should start going after Jones’s advertisers – the way you’re going to hit hard against a member of the Top 1% of society is by going after their pocketbooks. Forced to clarify her tweets, Jemele Hill admitted that, yes, she was calling for a boycott to put pressure on Jones. In other words, she wanted consumers to boycott any company doing business with the Cowboys.

That, of course, set off the equivalent of a neutron bomb in ESPN HQ. ESPN has lucrative deals with professional sports leagues – including a $15.2 billion (billion!) deal to broadcast NFL games – and there was absolutely no way that the network could let its on-air talent get away with calling for a boycott via social media. ESPN promptly suspended her for 2 weeks. Moreover, ESPN went on record, saying that the network was “all about sports” and that it was not a “political organization.”

The national anthem controversy and the financial condition of cable TV

So why did ESPN take these extraordinary steps? The first thing you have to know is that the biggest name in sports TV has been hemorrhaging viewers for years. From 2015 to 2017, the number of ESPN subscribers has dropped 7.4%, to below the 88 million mark. In the world of cable TV, that’s a precipitous drop. Things got so bad, in fact, that the parent company of ESPN, Walt Disney, started looking for ways to cut costs at the vaunted sports network. That led to a much-publicized purge at ESPN, during which the network let go of expensive on-air and production talent, all in the name of protecting the bottom line.

So, at the very moment that the national anthem controversy was reaching its apex, ESPN and other sports TV networks were facing a dilemma: they were bleeding subscribers, and could little afford any new controversy that would result in even more losses. And they certainly didn’t want to wade into any Twitter war involving President Trump and the White House. ESPN suddenly had a very strong incentive to stop the politicization of sports.

Owners vs. players: Time for cable sports TV networks to take sides?

Even more awkwardly, the big sports networks (and especially ESPN) have always been first and foremost about the sports personalities – and not the owners. In the world that existed pre-Trump, ESPN actually defended the right of players to take the knee. Popular ESPN sports host Stephen A. Smith, for example, has largely been given carte blanche to say whatever he wanted about the Colin Kaepernick controversy. He publicly came out against the NFL owners, suggesting (or, at least, insinuating) that they were colluding to prevent Kaepernick from ever getting another job in the NFL. Every time a star QB went down with an injury, there was Stephen A. Smith, suggesting that Kaepernick might be a very nice fit.

But those days may be coming to a close. The last thing these cable sports networks want is to be portrayed as liberal and biased. Why? It has to do with the dollars involved. Is the NFL really going to sign another broadcast deal with ESPN if it constantly gets beaten up on the air, day after day? Are sports viewers really going to stick around if they sense that ESPN is pushing a non-patriotic agenda on them?

When it comes to the national anthem controversy, there are a lot of gray issues. There’s nothing black and white about it – except the players involved. What this huge controversy has done is reshape the media landscape, setting up clear “Do not trespass” signs around certain hot-button issues. At a time when people are cutting the cord, and a time when a single tweet can set off a media firestorm that reaches the White House, these are very interesting times indeed for sports TV broadcasters.


Chris Hemsworth Shines in “Thor: Ragnarok”


After a long and much-anticipated wait, “Thor: Ragnarok” is finally arriving in movie cinemas on November 3. This third installment in the “Thor” franchise is bigger and better than ever, and a key reason for that is Chris Hemsworth in the role of the mythical Thor. In this $180 million blockbuster from Marvel, Chris Hemsworth really shines.

“Thor: Ragnarok” is the funniest and most enjoyable Marvel film yet

The very best Marvel films are known for their superhero characters, the fantastic plot lines, and their wonderful CGI special effects. But one thing that they are not known for are their humor. In short, Marvel films have seemed to follow a very defined template, and a key part of that template has never been humor. That’s what makes “Thor: Ragnarok” so much fun and so enjoyable –it’s perhaps the funniest and most enjoyable Marvel film yet.

Critic after critic has praised “Thor: Ragnarok” as a “breath of fresh air in the MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe]” and as “the funniest Marvel film so far by no small margin.” And a big reason for that is the comic prowess of Chris Hemsworth. If you are only thinking of him as a huge, hunky Thor figure, then you’re in for a real treat. It is Hemsworth who gets some of the funniest lines of the entire movie.

For example, there is one scene on the planet Sakaar, where the imprisoned Thor must fight to the death with a rival in a gladiatorial combat arena. When he finds out that his rival will be the Hulk, his longtime friend, he bursts out laughing with a huge “Yessss!” and delivers one of the funniest lines of the whole movie, “We know each other… we’re old friends from work.”

Chris Hemsworth shines in “Thor: Ragnarok” by giving us a fresh, new Thor

This is the third “Thor” film (and the fifth film in which the character Thor has appeared), so we’ve gotten pretty used to what to expect from the character. This character has flowing blond locks, a buff body, and a magical hammer. So Chris Hemsworth has decided to shake things up for this film – he’s cut off his hair, changed his costume and, oh yes, he’s lost the magical hammer that made him so powerful.

In interviews, Chris Hemsworth has commented on the new-look Thor. In collaboration with director Taika Waititi, Hemsworth decided that Thor needed to be freshened up for movie audiences. On “Good Morning America,” for example, he told a live studio audience that he wanted to “change things up.” And, oh boy, does it work for “Thor: Ragnarok.” This is a sequel and a franchise film, but it feels fresh and new. No wonder people are talking about Chris Hemsworth and his shining role in this new Marvel film.

Chris Hemsworth shines as the leader of a team trying to save Asgard from the Goddess of Death

“Thor: Ragnarok” is more than just a blockbuster film filled with lots of great action sequences – such as the gladiatorial “Contest of Champions” on the planet Sakaar – it’s also a quest movie in which a band of heroes – Thor, Loki, the Hulk and Valkyrie – must do battle with Hela, the Goddess of Death (played by Cate Blanchett).

And it’s here, with all the interactions between this group of heroes, that Chris Hemsworth as Thor really shines. First of all, there is a friendly, brotherly-like competition with his stepbrother Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston). There is real humor in there. And there is also Thor’s friendship with the Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo), which allows Chris Hemsworth to become a lovable, hunky character who’s not-so-bright but charming. A generation ago, he’s what movie reviewers would have referred to as a “lovable lunk.”


Chris Hemsworth has some of the best action scenes in a bold and outrageous action movie

What Marvel fans want, of course, is plenty of action and glorious CGI special effects, and it’s here that “Thor: Ragnarok” really delivers. There are scenes in which Thor wields his fabulous hammer, and others in which he wields equally awe-inspiring swords. There are plenty of action scenes of him flying through the air, and doing everything in his power to save his home planet Asgard from almost certain extinction.

The one action scene, by far, that is going to delight fans is the gladiator scene involving Chris Hemsworth (as Thor) and Mark Ruffalo (as the Hulk). This is big-time, over-the-top Marvel fun, and it’s all presided over by the Grandmaster (played by Jeff Goldblum)

And there are plenty more elements of this action quest movie that need to be mentioned – like Hela the Goddess of Death and her unbelievable powers of destruction. And don’t’ forget about Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson) or the Hulk – all by themselves, they are scene-stealers

Chris Hemsworth is the biggest star in an all-star cast

As you might have noticed by now, Chris Hemsworth is hardly alone as a big-name Hollywood movie star in this film. In addition, you have Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Tom Hiddleston, and Jeff Goldblum. And yet, despite the presence of all these Hollywood luminaries, the one star who shines brightest is Chris Hemsworth.

Whether he is traveling to the Nine Realms in search of the Infinity Stones, trapped on the planet Sakaar, or saving his home planet Asgard from near-certain destruction, Chris Hemsworth really shines. Before this movie, it appeared that the “Thor” movie franchise might be running its’ course, but now, a completely new narrative is emerging: “Thor” is one of the most dynamic franchises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In short, we need more Thor, and we definitely need more Chris Hemsworth (preferably with his shirt off). Marvel took a big risk by bringing on the New Zealand director Taika Waititi, until now previously known mostly for small indie films and comedies, but it looks like this gamble really paid off. He’s injected some real humor into this film franchise, and Chris Hemsworth is a big reason why: he really shines in “Thor: Ragnarok.”


Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter Biography


Beyoncé is the closest someone can get to perfection. She is beautiful, intelligent, can sing, dance, act, and also take care of a business empire. Beyoncé has a massive fan following. She is one of the most successful music artists the industry has ever seen and enjoys the distinction of being the most nominated female in the awards history. She has 22 Grammy and 24 MTV Video Music Awards, the highest for any artist. She was also Forbes’ most powerful woman of 2015. She is an incredible inspiration, who keeps getting better with each year.

Beyoncé’s Early Life

Beyoncé was born to Celestine and Mathew Knowles as Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter on September 4, 1981 in Houston, Texas. While her mother owned a salon, her father was a sales manager with Xerox. Beyoncé has a younger sister, Solange, who is also a singer and used to be a member of the now famous group, Destiny’s Child. In fact, they are the first pair of sisters ever to have No.1 albums to their credit.

Beyoncé enrolled in dance classes at a young age when she was attending Houston’s St. Mary’s Montessori School. Darlette Johnson, her dance instructor, was the first person to recognize the talent in young Beyoncé. The little girl used to complete the songs of her instructors and even touch high notes, which surprised Darlette.

With the new-found encouragement, Beyoncé’s interest in the performing arts only increased. At the age of 7, she sang Imagine by John Lennon at a school competition, and beat other participants more than twice her age. Her parents then shifted Beyoncé to Parker Elementary School in Houston to further hone her music skills, where she was part of the school choir. Later, Beyoncé went to the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and Alief Elsik High School too. The talented girl was also the soloist for the choir at St. John’s United Methodist Church for two straight years.

Beyoncé’s Early Career

While her schooling was taken care of, Beyoncé had already started working on her music dreams outside of school. When she was 8, Beyoncé and her close friend, Kelly Rowland, appeared to audition for an entertainment group. During these auditions, they met LaTavia Roberson, and these three girls were placed in the 6-member group called Girl’s Tyme. This group became popular in the Houston show circuit for their raps and dance performances. It was here that they caught Arne Frager’s eye, who entered them into the famous talent show, Star Search.

In 1995, Beyoncé’s father left his career as sales manager to manage his daughter’s group. This move put a lot of financial strain on Beyoncé’s family and broke their family. However, by 1996, things started looking up for them as the group started recording their first album with Sony Music and the family came together once again. The very same year, the girls managed to clinch a deal with Columbia Records, and never looked back again.


Beyoncé’s Career

1996 finally saw the birth of Destiny’s Child, a name they picked out of the Book of Isiah. Their first major song was called Killing Time and featured in the 1997 blockbuster, Men in Black. It was in 1997 that the group decided to release their namesake album and got their first big success with No, No, No. This hit got them three Soul Train Awards for the Best R&B Single, the Best R&B Album of the Year, and the Best R&B New Artist.

This brought some major recognition for the group and they became a brand in themselves. In 1999, Destiny’s Child released their second album, The Writing’s On the Wall. This was the album that featured the group’s first chart-topping single – Bills, Bills, Bills. Say My Name, another single from this album, won two Grammy Awards. The success of the group presented a lot of new opportunities to its members. Beyoncé got an opportunity for a duet with Marc Nelson in The Best Man, a movie released in 1999.

2000 was a tough time for Destiny’s Child because two members of the group, Roberson and LeToya Luckett, started having issues with the way Mathew was managing the group. They were eventually replaced by Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin. However, Farrah would not last long. The paparazzi blamed Beyoncé for the split and she was also going through a break-up at the time. All the negativity weighed heavily on her and she later confessed that the situation made her slip into depression that would last for years. Her mother was the primary driving force behind her coming out of the dark times in her life.

With only three members remaining in the group, they recorded their next super successful single, Independent Women Part I, which also appeared in the 2000 movie, Charlie’s Angels. After winding up her third album, Beyoncé decided to branch out a little. In 2001, she signed a TV movie, Carmen: A Hip Hopera, opposite Mekhi Phifer.


The same year, their third album, aptly named Survivor, was also released. With all-time favorites like Bootylicious and of course, Survivor in the playlist, it sold over 650,000 copies in the first week itself. This album also became a bone of contention between Destiny’s Child and the former group members.

The latter sued the group stating that the album was targeting them. With the release of 8 Days of Christmas, later in 2001, the members declared that they were taking a break to focus on their individual careers.

Beyoncé aggressively pursued both her acting and singing career. She was seen in the hit movie Austin Powers in Goldmember playing the part of Foxxy Cleopatra and got the part of Lily in the movie, The Fighting Temptations. She then released two singles, Work It Out and Fighting Temptation, and also contributed to Summertime. She later appeared in JayZ’s 03 Bonnie & Clyde the same year. The song climbed up to No.4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

In 2003, Beyoncé finally came out with her first solo album, Dangerously in Love. It was certified platinum five times and also won her 5 Grammy Awards. As a solo artist, Beyoncé garnered a kind of fame that might have been impossible as part of a group. Clearly, pursuing a solo career has been one of her smartest moves. She became a brand unto herself.

The final album from Destiny’s Child was titled Destiny Fulfilled and it came out in 2005. The group formally broke apart the next year. This was also the year that Beyoncé released her second solo album, B’Day that sold over half a million copies in its first week. Incidentally, the release also coincided with her 25th birthday. In 2006, Beyoncé appeared in The Pink Panther with Steve Martin and then later in Dreamgirls. Her acting chops were appreciated by the critics and both the movies were commercial successes too.

I Am….Sasha Fierce came next in 2008. This album became her third straight No.1 solo album in the States. With over 7 million copies sold, it was a huge hit. It was the track, Single Ladies that stole the limelight. The video for the song also won the 2009 MTV Video Music Award for the Video of the Year. Suddenly, Single Ladies was everywhere.

Other artists were releasing their own versions of the song, and it was a big craze for a long time. 2008 was a magical year for Beyoncé. She was doing great on the professional front and took her relationship with JayZ to the next level by marrying him. With six Grammy awards, she became the female artist to win the most Grammy Awards in a single night.

All this while, she was also doing roles in movies like Cadillac Records and Obsessed. In 2010, Beyoncé announced that she was going to take a break from her music career. A break that lasted almost nine months saw Beyoncé ending professional ties with her father and also visiting Europe, Australia, Egypt, and China. In 2011, Beyoncé released her next album, 4. It was a mash up of multiple genres of music.

In 2012, Beyoncé gave birth to her first child, Blue Ivy Carter. Her first performance after the delivery was at The Ovation Hall in Revel Atlantic. In 2013, the singer performed at the second inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama.

The same year, she released her fifth album on the iTunes Store. It came as a huge surprise to her fans, because she did not promote the album at all. Despite the absence of any promotion, the album managed to shoot up to charts and opened at the top of the Billboard 200 chart, just like all her previous releases. In 2016, Beyoncé released Lemonade exclusively on Tidal, which was also a chart-topper.

Beyoncé’s Personal Life

Apart from being a talented singer and actress, she is a successful business woman. She has her own line of women’s fashion, footwear, and many other business interests. Beyoncé is also a well-known philanthropist. She always contributes to funds that support people affected by natural calamities. In addition, she is an advocate for tighter gun-control laws and supports charities that work for women’s education.

Undoubtedly, Beyoncé is one of the most successful and popular music stars of the last decade. She is supremely talented and is ready to put in the hard work necessary to remain on top of the rest.