South Carolina basketball star Aliyah Boston called out ESPN for failing to invite her to the ESPY Awards, the annual ceremony that recognizes excellence in sports. The 20-year-old was nominated for the “Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports” award. The ceremony took place on July 20, at the 3,400-seat Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
“To be nominated for an ESPY award meant the world to me and my family. While it hurt finding out that they wouldn’t be televising the category despite it being televised last year, and had no intentions for me to attend… it hurt more to see ESPN change course and invite me only after social media caught wind of it. Respectfully, I declined,” she wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
“I’m used to this. It’s just another moment when the disrespect and erasure of Black women is brushed off as a “mistake” or an “oversight”. Another excuse for why our milestones and accomplishments aren’t a “priority” this time, even now, 50 years after Title IX,” Boston continued. “To every Black girl and every Black woman: no one can take away what God has in store for us. You matter. You are valuable. You are a priority. You are seen, and you are LOVED – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
In 2022, Boston helped the Gamecocks win the national championship. She also broke the SEC record for most consecutive double-doubles, according to Sports Illustrated. On July 18, ESPN said that the reason why Boston didn’t receive an invitation was that the announcement of the award winner would not be televised during the ceremony broadcast.
As soon as news of Boston not being invited to the ceremony went public, her supporters took to social media to express their disapproval.
“We have the utmost respect for Aliyah Boston, Dawn Staley and the South Carolina Gamecocks,” ESPN said in a statement, as reported by The State. “Due to both COVID restrictions and a new venue with much less seating capacity than previous shows, ‘The 2022 ESPYs’ prioritized athlete invitations to focus on specific awards that will be handed out during the broadcast.”
The only nominee in attendance was Oklahoma softball player Jocelyn Alo, who took home the award, according to USA Today. Alo was also nominated for the Best Team and Best Record-Breaking Performance awards, which were included in the live broadcast.
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