ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt pushed back against critics of his sports network, calling internet complainers about ESPN's left-leaning sociopolitical stances "chicken s**t."
Van Pelt — the midnight host of SportsCenter — said in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated that those who slam the network while ensconced the relative safety of social media aren't worth listening to:
“This make-believe world where everyone wants to talk s**t ... this s**t-talking ... poke-you-in-the-chest virtual whatever ... it’s just there’s nothing more chicken s**t than that because it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. And again, if that’s how people really felt, somewhere along the line ... I would’ve intersected with someone that felt that way and would come up and say, ‘Hey, you know, I think your show sucks, I think ESPN sucks and I think you guys are doomed.’ ... Never. Not once.”
He also took issue with those who say they're boycotting ESPN and the NFL because of the national anthem protests — or simply cancelling ESPN altogether. Van Pelt specifically brought up reaction to the controversy over Caitlyn Jenner receiving an Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs in 2015:
"If you truly wanna boycott the NFL or you wanna boycott ESPN, the notion that some guy sitting out there, or gal, and they decide, ‘You know what? I’m gonna go ahead and cut my entire cable package because ESPN gave an award on a made-up show in July — because there’s no sports — to a woman that used to be a man, so I’m now gonna not have any cable TV at all, and I’m gonna sit around at night and read books by candlelight like olden times because of that,’ ... that’s not happening. And if you did that, then you’re so dumb that I can’t even pray for you because you’re beyond hope. If that was your reaction to this — to deny yourself the ability to watch television — I mean, that just hasn’t happened and didn’t happen ..."
Van Pelt later said he respects both sides of the political aisle and that he tries to keep his commentary non-political — but that sometimes sports and society "overlap" and "never more so than now."
Here's the interview. The relative portion starts after the 26-minute mark. (Content warning: Some rough language):