Editor’s note: This story contains details of a mass casualty event and gun violence.
In the wake of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, an outpouring messages of condolences and cause for gun law reform poured in throughout the sports world. On Wednesday, ESPN anchor Elle Duncan shared a poignant message during her SportsCenter broadcast, urging viewers not to grow numb to the tragedy.
“You heard Steve Kerr, and he’s right: don’t grow numb to this. Look at them,” Duncan said, gesturing to a monitor displaying photos of some of the victims. “We owe it to those parents who are arranging funerals instead of camp schedules today. We owe it to the matriarchs that won’t be a graduation parties this weekend, like some of you. We owe it to the church that has one less parishioner. A society that makes willingness to stand in front of an assault rifle a job requirement for a fourth grade teacher, who, by the way, is making 30 grand a year.”
Duncan began her message by noting how much easier it is to distract yourself from the difficulty of confronting what happened. She recounted dropping her 4-year-old child to school and singing Elmo songs in the car to “distract from the sense of dread.”
“We put our kids to bed at night, and we have an expectation that they’re gonna make it to morning under our protection and love,” Duncan said. “Only to send them into a reality where you just have to hope they’re faster to the hiding places than the other kids at school.”
The suspected gunman, an 18-year-old man, entered the school with a handgun and possibly, leaving 19 children and two adults dead. Duncan concluded her message by showing the faces of the victims on a monitor alongside her, pleading with viewers to acknowledge their presence.
“If we won’t do anything else to protect the innocence from the reality that we have created for them, then we owe them, at the very least, the respect of acknowledgement, no matter how disruptive to our peace of mind,” Duncan said, fighting back tears. “So please, I implore you—and I mean it—look at them. And then look at everyone in the room with you, and imagine it’s their faces on that screen.”