Anyone who knows American history knows that the song “Dixie” has a long racist history, having originated with blackface performances and been embraced by the pro-slavery Confederacy during the Civil War. But that didn’t stop ESPN from playing the song during Saturday’s Colts-Texans game.
It started with what should have been a fun and lighthearted look at Colts quarterback Andrew Luck‘s Twitter alter ego, Captain Andrew Luck. An anonymous parody account, it tweets as if it were Luck writing letters home to his mother as an officer in the Civil War. It’s consistently funny, and ESPN wanted to include it in the Colts’ playoff game.
But ESPN says one production staffer decided to play “Dixie” during the segment about Capt. Luck, and that staffer didn’t run it by anyone else. ESPN declined to name the staffer or say whether he or she will face any discipline, but did tell Sporting News that the decision was regrettable.
“It was a mistake to use this song. We regret having done so and we apologize,” said ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.
The whole thing was ill-conceived, with a graphic that showed Luck dressed as a Union general but being protected by two soldiers in Confederate uniforms. What could have been an amusing segment during the game fell flat.