Deion Sanders Blasts ESPN | News Agencies Fail to Photograph HBCU Games

Jackson State's head coach Deion Sanders has a valid point. Sanders blasted ESPN on inadequate coverage of HBCU game scores left off its ticker.  But ESPN is not alone in ignoring HBCUs.
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Once again, Jackson State's head coach Deion Sanders has a valid point. Sanders blasted ESPN on how the major news agency provided inadequate coverage of HBCU sports programs on its scores ticker this weekend — this has been the case for many a year.

Deion Sanders

"I can't understand how we can play on ESPN. But I'm home. After we land on a wonderful flight that we had back from Miami, and I'm looking at ESPN. I'm looking on the ticker, and I'm trying to find out the score of Tennessee State, and I'm sorry. I can't see that. Where is that? So, we can play on your network, but you can, but you can't put us on the ticker?"

JSU Head Coach Deion Sanders in SWAC Media Conference

BROADCASTERS ARE NOT ALONE LACKING HBCU COVERAGE

The lack of HBCU game coverage isn't a practice confined to ESPN or other broadcast networks, but also it happens in sports photography. Getty Images and Imagn (USA Today Sports) failed to send or hire photographers for major HBCU events. I have covered the NFL for years and use Imagn as our repository of game photos for articles. Unfortunately, neither Getty and Imagn (USA Today Sports) had photographs of the significant Week 0 contest between North Carolina Central and Alcorn State.

In Week 1, Imagn only had coverage of the Orange Blossom Classic, while the 36th Annual Labor Day Classic between Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M reported on in Houston was ignored. The only photographers I noticed on the sidelines was local news channels, institutions, and HBCU related sites.

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HBCU CONFERENCES MUST FLEX MUSCLES

What will promote change? One, prominent vocal and courageous voices like Coach Prime and others. Two, sports reporters willingness to be brave and unfazed with the potential fallout. Three, and most importantly, HBCUs must call out major sports networks from being parasites and profiting off their conference's events but demanding fair and appropriate coverage by networks and imaging services.

Sponsors and networks are profiting.  

NUMBERS DON'T LIE

ShowBuzzDaily report over 1.02 million viewers tuned into the 2021 MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Week 0, and ESPN 2's broadcast of the Orange Blossom Classic had over 700,000 viewers and a 0.42 household rating. HBCU games are popular and drawing more interest than several Division 1 contests in Week 1.

The goal is financial. It's time HBCUs "flex their muscles" with networks and news agencies and continue to prove their coverage of sporting events in the SWAC, MEAC, CIAA, SIAC, Big South, NAIA, and OVC is worth the investment.


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