John Skipper, one of the most powerful and prolific faces of the sports media world, resigned recently from his high profile role as ESPN president, stunning fans, colleagues and public. Skipper, who put in his papers after a 20-year stint at ESPN, cited substance addiction as the reason behind taking the extreme step. Quoting Skipper, Bloomberg said, “I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction.”
In his statement, Skipper expressed his embarrassment for having let down his family and friends and all those who cared about him. He also requested privacy in his hour of ordeal. John had a long career at ESPN. He had joined the company in 1997 as a senior vice president, and held charge as general manager of ESPN the Magazine. In his email to the employees at Disney, Skipper cited his long-term problems with substance addiction to be the reason for quitting.
Skipper, at the time of his resignation held the dual role of president and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks. In his statement, John was heartfelt in expressing his gratitude to Disney Media for the opportunity it had provided him. He also expressed warm regards for his colleagues, Michael Lynton, George Bodenheimer, and Bob Iger, who helped him in his journey at ESPN.
Bodenheimer, who was the president of ESPN from 1998 to 2011 will now serve as Acting Chair for a duration of 90 days, until a suitable successor is found.
Decision a bolt from the blue
Skipper’s decision to quit is a bolt from the blue. Many of his friends and colleagues from the television industry are incredulous. They never saw this coming. There had absolutely no signs that he would quit.
Substance abuse is a big problem in the American society and it is quite rampant in the media industry, with many mediapersons taking to drugs and alcohol to cope with the extreme pressures they encounter. Some open up about their battles; however, most keep their struggles in a closet. In 2016, veteran ABC anchor, Elizabeth Vargas, in a special edition of 20/20 had talked about her battles with alcohol and anxiety.
Substance abuse ravaging Americans
Substance abuse is a scourge ravaging the U.S. Part of the problem arises because until very recently substance abuse was not seen as a disease. Instead, it was seen as moral failing for which the individual and the individual alone was responsible. In addition, stigma attached with disclosing one’s drug use deters people from accepting the problem and speaking about it. So most people with a serious addiction problem keep their condition under wraps, exacerbating the condition further. People today are still unaware about the problem of addiction and its associated consequences. In case of an addiction, people should approach reputed drug rehab centers for timely treatment.
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