By now anyone with internet knows ESPN President John Skipper abruptly resigned his post due to problems with addiction.
“I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction,” read the ESPN Press Release, “[and] I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.”
To see these words come from someone who The New York Times called a “Sports Titan” with “one of the most powerful jobs in global sports” was a devastating blow to the entire industry. It also reminds us that addiction doesn’t discriminate. Ever.
Skipper served as president of ESPN since 2011 and had just been given a contract extension. That extension would have kept him with the company through 2021, which only compounded the shock of his departure.
“Whatever demons Skipper was battling were not evident,” wrote Sanchez, citing “ESPN whisperer” James Andrew Miller’s recent “Origins” podcast, “but he did hint at how difficult a job it is to lead a company with about 8,000 worldwide employees and one that seems constantly enmeshed in public controversies.”
Skipper, who began his career as a secretary at Rolling Stone, had become one of the most respected and revered executives in media. And his stepping down due to substance abuse issues was met with a unanimous round of well-wishes and accolades.
Leading the chorus was Skipper’s immediate predecessor, George Bodenheimer, who spent 13 years at ESPN’s top spot. Bodenheimer will be serving as Acting Chair while parent Walt Disney Company seeks and secures a replacement.
Courage & Applause
“I have great respect for John’s leadership,” reads Bodenheimer’s concurrent statement, “and I applaud the courage he’s demonstrating by addressing his challenge head on. The most important thing right now for John and his family is that he conquers his addiction, and the entire ESPN family is behind him.”
The RBC family wholeheartedly agrees. Skipper’s move was the mark of a true leader. It also took tremendous courage. And we join the entire American sports family in standing firmly behind him too.
(ESPN Image Courtesy WikiMedia Commons. With Great Gratitude.)