Post Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:23 pm

ESPN Takes a Stand Against Christians

ESPN Takes a Stand Against Christians

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By Carol Einarsson | 03/30/2012

"Over half of all race fans didn't bother to vote in the last election. I know. I was one of them. It's time for all of us - the entire NASCAR Nation to rise up and make our voices heard this election.

"Please text USA to 41600 and join Rise Up and Register today. When you sign up, you become eligible to win this car, and if you do win, I'll deliver it to you myself.

"Every voice is critical, so please join me and let's rise up together for our country."

That's the content of the commercial that ESPN refused to air for NASCAR sponsor Is the message so different from that which we saw four years ago from Rock the Vote? Not at all. It's an encouraging message to get Americans to go vote. A sponsor paid money to be on Blake Koch's car and paid to make a commercial to air during a race on ESPN, and after all of the expense, they were turned away.

Why is that? Well, ESPN left a voicemail that said it was because of political and religious overtones. Political overtones? Telling people to vote, but not for whom, just to register to vote -- that's political? Seems just American to me.

And religious overtones? Yeah.. I didn't see or hear a single one. But it wasn't the commercial to which ESPN objected. Rosa Gatti, the Senior Vice President of Corporate Outreach at ESPN said, "We looked at Blake's website and do see the religious aspects of this, so those are the reasons."

I'm sorry, what did you say? Did ESPN just say that because a driver is Christian and talks about his faith on his own website, his sponsor is not allowed to air a commercial on their network? Yes, yes they did.

The exclusion from ESPN's commercial slots cost Blake Koch his sponsor. Can you blame them? The whole idea of sponsorship is advertising, and if they are not permitted to do so, what's the point? And they were excluded not for their company or message, but because the driver they sponsored is Christian.

Now Blake Koch is without a sponsor, struggling in the sport, because a TV network doesn't want the sponsor of a Christian driver to air ads on their network. The best quote I've read so far is from someone (that I won't name) who's been involved in NASCAR for decades and was quoted as saying, "Thought I had seen stupid before....but this takes stupid to levels that haven't even been discovered yet." Well, leave it to ESPN to be a forerunner in the field of "Stupid Exploration".

I wonder what NASCAR has to say about this. As the sport continues to suffer for lack of sponsors on cars, their TV partner ESPN is driving off sponsors by refusing to air their commercial.

The sport is littered with Christian drivers, and there are more coming up through the ranks. Names like Trevor Bayne, Justin Allgaier, Austin and Ty Dillon - they are all Christian, and they all have sponsors who would expect not to be prohibited from advertising.

Andy Hall, Associate Director of Communications at ESPN, said, "The spot did not meet our guidelines in regard to advocacy messaging." This is the same ESPN employee who once asked what the big deal was if race fans didn't get to see the invocation and anthem because it landed on the pre-race side of the hour, and many local affiliates chose not to air the pre-race.

ESPN has made their position clear. If you're Christian and you have a sponsor that may want to advertise, consider yourself on notice.

I would expect, given the so-called "guidelines of advocacy messaging" and the practice of first investigating a driver's personal website, that any complaints to ESPN would fall on deaf ears.

But what power can NASCAR exercise over a TV partner? Remember how swiftly things changed after that first race on FOX when they took the sponsors off the cars unless there was an extra fee paid to the network? NASCAR stepped in. But that was during NASCAR coverage, not in between the coverage where the network alone can choose what ads to run or decline. ... rticle=960
Cup: 14, 1, 29, 88, 99, 11, 17, 39, 15, 5, 2, 16
NW: 7, 31, 3, 11, 60, 88, 12
Trucks: 9, 88, 3, 7, 17, 31
IRL: 10, 11, 12, 26, 3, 38, 27
RIP Dan Wheldon
"Fight for Four"- Annalee
You got to have a big gigantic drum kit.