Viewers watching Saturday night’s NFL playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans were treated to the song “Dixie” — the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy, 11 states that seceded from the United States — during the telecast on ESPN.
The Washington Post reported that the network apologized on Sunday:
ESPN issued an apology Sunday after it used “Dixie” the day before in a graphic about the pass protection for Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. The network reportedly blamed the use of the song, widely associated with pro-Confederacy sentiment, on a production staffer.
The graphic was shown during Saturday’s Colts-Texans playoff game, in which Luck led Indianapolis to a 21-7 win. Appearing to play off the popular Twitter account “Capt. Andrew Luck,” in which the quarterback is portrayed as a Civil War officer to humorous effect, ESPN had the Colts star dodging cannon balls while clad in Union military garb.
“It was a mistake to use this song. We regret having done so and we apologize,” ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said in a statement to Michael McCarthy of Sporting News.
Read the complete Washington Post article, including background on the song, here.
In 2016, The University of Mississippi made the decision to no longer play the song “Dixie” during sporting events.
Ross Bjork, athletics director at Ole Miss, told Mississippi Today reporter Adam Ganucheau in 2016 that ending the 70-year tradition was “the right thing to do.”
“It fits in with where the university has gone in terms of making sure we follow our creed, core values of the athletic department, and that all people feel welcome.”