Anthony Mackie dropped some powerful commentary on the treatment of two of the sports world’s most currently talked-about athletes — Sha’Carri Richardson and Naomi Osaka, as he hosted Saturday night’s ESPY Awards.
“The greatest celebration of sports is back!” Mackie said during the June 10 event. Making a joke as he referenced Richardson’s recent disqualification from the Olympics over a failed drug test. The actor continued, “We up here on a rooftop in New York City. Man, we’re so high they wouldn’t let us compete in the Olympics.”
In the audience, 21-year-old Richardson laughed at the reference to her situation.
Later in the show, Mackie went onto say:
“USA Track & Field: How you mess it up, dog? How do you justify banning Sha’Carri Richardson for smoking weed? Weed is a de-hancing drug — it doesn’t make you do anything but want to watch another episode of Bob’s Burgers. You never saw Snoop Dogg run anywhere!”
“I don’t know how you justify not letting her run,” he continued before adding, “And I don’t know how you punish Naomi Osaka,” Mackie referenced the 23-year old tennis champion’s fine for her decision to not attend press conferences at the French Open this past May. At the time, Osaka said that she’d be opting out of the required media engagements to put her mental health first.
“For prioritizing her mental health,” Mackie noted as he continued speaking on Osaka’s recent penalization. “That’s crazy. I’m no tennis exec, I don’t know, but if my sport had one of the most popular and marketable athletes on the planet, you know what I would do? I would probably make sure she felt comfortable and respected. But hey, what do I know, right? I’m just Captain America.”
Ahead of the show, PEOPLE reports that the Marvel actor said he was “excited” to have the opportunity to host the ESPYs especially considering this past year’s events (pandemic). According to Mackie, this year’s show was a great chance to “celebrate the gift that sports have been this past year.”
“They have allowed us to cheer on our favorite teams and athletes together at a time when many felt so alone,” The Hurt Locker actor said about the role sports played in the lives of many during 2020. “As an avid sports fan myself, I can’t wait to meet some of my favorite athletes and celebrate their accomplishments!”