After a tumultuous day at ESPN, in which the broadcaster laid off around 100 employees on Wednesday, including some of the network’s most popular on-air and online personalities, tributes were paid to those who lost their jobs.
Perhaps the most striking came from the Golden State Warriors. Their assistant coach, Mike Brown, spoke about Ethan Sherwood Strauss, a highly respected writer who covered the team and lost his job on Wednesday.
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 26, 2017
“Before we get started, I heard today that Ethan lost his job and a lot of people at ESPN obviously got laid off,” said Brown at the Warriors’ press conference. “This is obviously an exciting time for us, not only as an organization but as a city … there’s a lot of good vibes going on. But that’s the reality of the world today. So we’re thinking of him and everybody else that goes through that, not only in sports, but also in life.”
Senior figures at the company also used their shows to pay tribute to their colleagues. Outside The Lines host Bob Ley, who has been with the company since 1979, wrapped up his show with a message.
“As you may have read or heard elsewhere, a number of our colleagues are leaving us here today at ESPN,” he said. “So today is that time to reflect on what they have contributed through the years to our many platforms, what they brought to you. It is a day to remember that, and to have a good thought for each one of them and for their respective families. That’s what I’m going to be doing, and I think they would appreciate it if you did the same. Think of them.”
Scott Van Pelt used his platform as host of late-night host of SportsCenter to deliver his own message. “This was a very difficult day in our neighborhood,” Van Pelt said. “People we care about, some of our neighbors, who have been here a long time, lost their jobs. They are our friends – and yours. We value them, because they are valuable. We care about them, because they are worth it. Because of circumstances beyond their control, they will no longer be part of our block, our neighborhood, even as they remain our friends, and always will be.”
The sympathy was not limited to ESPN. On TNT’s NBA playoff coverage, player turned pundit Charles Barkley spoke on the subject. “I’ve been in the business a long time, we know all the people in the sports business,” Barkley said. “We see them in the [NBA] finals, we see them in the conference finals, and a lot of people at ESPN got laid off today, and I want to wish all the guys and girls nothing but the best.
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“This is a tough business at times, and you see these people all the time on television, and then you see them doing events. I just want to let them know I was thinking about them.”
ESPN is owned by Disney, and is looking to cut costs as its subscriber base falls. Notable names to have left on Wednesday included veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder, MLB writer Jayson Stark, college football reporter Brett McMurphy, college basketball reporter Dana O’Neil and ESPN Dallas columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor.