Feb. 12, 2016: Canada’s Win Butler. of Arcade Fire, holds the MVP trophy after Canada defeated the United States in the Celebrity Game, part of NBA basketball’s All-Star weekend, in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
Win Butler wants the United States to Wake Up, but ESPN wasn’t about to allow him the platform for his alarm.
The frontman of Arcade Fire, a band that hails from Canada, was named the Celebrity Game MVP in Toronto on Friday night, racking up 15 points and 14 rebounds for team Drake in a game some people actually watched. But Butler tried to keep eyes and ears on him after the performance, pivoting an interview with ESPN’s Sage Steele into a plea for health-care reform in the United States.
It was short-lived; Steele, acting for the network that preaches “Stick to Sports,” promptly cut off his appeal.
“I just wanted to say, it’s an election year in the U.S., the U.S. has a lot it can learn from Canada, health care, taking caring of people,” said Butler, who was born in California before moving north.
“We’re talking about celebrity stuff, not politics,” interjected Steele. “Congratulations on your MVP.”
The line between sports and politics is murky at the Worldwide Leader. The same network that once hired Dennis Miller as a color commentator for “Monday Night Football” also disciplined Curt Schilling for espousing conservative beliefs in likening Muslims to Nazis.
In a celebrity game, in which a musician is playing basketball, that delicate walk between sports and politics is given a further spotlight. Steele, standing in for the network, decided to put her foot down.