Cari Champion, Jemele Hill talk new show ‘Stick To Sports,’ Kamala Harris, and athletes’ political involvement

The two broadcasters are ready to amplify their voices on their new VICE series

Cari Champion and Jemele Hill will be co-hosting their first late night show, Stick To Sports, starting Wednesday, August 19. The two television personalities met when they were both working on ESPN and formed a true sisterhood ever since. Both ladies have since left ESPN, but continue to dominate in the media world.

theGrio caught up with the hosts of VICE’s newest show to discuss working together, the historic nomination of Senator Kamala Harris, the future of sports and more. 

“I think a defining time for both of us were maybe some rocky periods that we probably went through at ESPN, and just the course of our career, really,” Hill explained, when asked what prepared her most for the launch of the show. “I don’t want to speak for Cari, but she’s had some different experiences than I have.” 

Read More: Jemele Hill weighs in on DeSean Jackson, says Black people can be ‘culturally arrogant’

She continued, “Once you go through situations where you feel as if other people made decisions that you ultimately either had to pay for or decisions that, you know, frankly, weren’t really in alignment with how you would love to do things—or even with your values and your sensibilities—that teaches you a lesson that you don’t want to be put in that position again.” 

Champion explained that the show had been in the works for years, sparked by their numerous Periscopes and Instagram Lives sessions, and regular conversations. However, she explained that Stick To Sports is coming at the perfect time.  

Jemele Hill
Journalist Jemele Hill attends the Heavyweight Championship of The World “Wilder vs. Fury” Premiere at Staples Center on December 01, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

“I feel like right now, this show, quite frankly, came at a right time. But this was even before all that’s going on in society,” Champion said. “When we had Americans’ attention, we were already putting this show together with the thought of talking about uncomfortable topics, topics that would make people stop and say, ‘I don’t know if I like what she had to say.’

She continued, “It takes a really strong person and sense of self to be OK with getting all the vitriol and all that about you when you state your opinion. That is it, because they don’t want to hear it. More importantly, our society is so archaic. They don’t want to hear from women and they don’t you dare be a Black woman and have something to say. That is the truth.” 

Although the show is called Stick To Sports, it definitely a play on words as the ladies will be discussing a lot more than just sports. Both of the women are vocal on Twitter and spoke out with praises when Harris was announced as former vice president Joe Biden’s running mate. The two journalists shared their immediate reactions to the news. 

“I was ecstatic for her. I mean, it’s a big step for Black women, period,” Hill said. “Obviously, this is at a time where I think a lot of Black women are seizing their power, particularly in politics, where we’ve seen Black women change elections. We see Black women being uplifted and put in leadership positions.”

She added, “You look at Cori Bush, Ayanna Pressley. This is a whole momentum that’s happening. And sort of seeing her put on a major party ticket was just kind of the culmination of a direction that Black women politically have been moving for some years now.”

As Hill shared her immediate reaction to the news, Champion’s first reaction was quite similar but also complimented Hill’s fiery personality. The broadcaster noted, however, that it’s important to not let that get confused with the angry Black woman stereotype. 

Cari Champion
(Credit: Cari Champion)

“What I like about this choice is that—and I tweeted this—it’s because it’s okay to have fire. Our fire, a Black woman’s fire, is always considered dangerous and uncomfortable and non-compliant, when it’s just basically, ‘I’m passionate,'” Champion explained. “My passion is no different than your passion. We both have the end goal of making things better. So for Joe to do well, in my opinion, and pick her, it is what I hope [can be] the beginning.

She added, “That people can start to embrace that a fiery Black woman isn’t angry, that a Black woman with education, knowledge and a sharp tongue, just like any other little political person would have in certain situations, isn’t dangerous.”

Recently, theGrio reported that LeBron James teamed up with the Los Angeles Dodgers to create a voting site for the 2020 presidential election. When asked about athletes’ involvement with political matters and what more they can do, Hill provided this insight on voter suppression.

“The reason LeBron and the Dodgers have to do this is because voter suppression is real. Voter suppression is not on LeBron to fix…So I’m happy he’s doing it,” she shared. “I also want us to be cognizant and aware of why these problems exist in the first place and who to hold accountable. It’s not LeBron James. It’s our government that needs to be held accountable for why there’s not wide access to voting.”

Read More: Cari Champion’s ‘Brown Girls Dream’ creates opportunities for future leaders

The ladies will be joining forces to have real conversations like this on all things from politics, pop Culture, music, girl chat, sports and more on Stick to Sports. The series airs on Wednesday, August 19, at 10pm ET/7pm PST.

The full interview with Champion and Hill can be found on theGrio‘s YouTube Channel. 

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