All of the sudden, ESPN cares about NHL hockey – mostly because they can politicize it. Hockey fans have complained for years of the network’s lack of coverage of the sport, but now, ESPN can’t stop talking about it.
With the NHL All-Star Game coming up on January 28, the league announced that Kid Rock would be among the performers. It is not clear when he would perform, as concerts and events are held throughout All-Star weekend, as well as before the game and at halftime.
ESPN, however, seemed livid over the idea of Kid Rock performing, objecting to his conservative views, and alluding to the fact that his support of President Trump is a problem. They point to “social media outrage,” which is mostly made up of anti-Trump activists with no interest in the sport itself. Kid Rock himself is a big Detroit Red Wings fan.
ESPN attempted to hype the “outrage” into a crisis, and confronted the NHL about it, assuming would capitulate to avoid any controversy.
Even though most hockey fans didn’t seem to care at all, ESPN certainly made an issue of it. The network’s Greg Wyshynski even wrote a column calling the decision to have him perform a “debacle.” He wondered “How, in 2018, did we end up with Kid Rock at the NHL All-Star Game…Kid Rock is a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, which isn’t popular with a lot of hockey fans. Then again, if hockey fans refused to watch a Trump supporter entertain them at an NHL event, they’d never attend a game. So you can see why some hockey fans have accepted this booking like a spear to the stomach.”
The NHL, however, is standing by Kid Rock, and Breitbart reports on ESPN’s attempt to hype the issue into a crisis.
In a January 19 article, ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski noted that the NHL is “aware of the backlash” over the announcement of Kid Rock as the All-Star Game entertainment. Though, the NHL says that the choice of Kid Rock was “purely based” on his entertainment value and has nothing whatever to do with his politics.
“Most of the time, our acts are passionate hockey fans,” said Steve Mayer, NHL executive vice president and executive producer for programming and creative development. “It’s all about the entertainment at the end of the day for us, and this selection was purely based on that, and the fact that Kid Rock is a hockey lover. That’s simply the background here.”
Despite those comments, ESPN characterizes the addition of the singer as having “created controversy in the hockey world” and being “widely criticized on social media.”
Kid Rock has not addressed the “controversy.”