In an environment rampant with charges of sexual abuse, and the downfall of political, media and entertainment figures unwilling to deal with their problems, it’s worth noting a media leader that takes an extraordinary step to act on his issues.
The resignation of John Skipper as head of ESPN in order to resolve long-term “substance addiction” can be a learning moment for many. Drug addiction and the problems it creates can happen to anyone, at any level, at any age (he’s 61).
Most people would wait until they got caught, or a bad move at the wrong time left them no choice. It clearly wasn’t an easy decision for him.
“I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down,” he said in his announcement yesterday.
As president of the Bristol-based network and co-chairman of Disney’s media group, and a longtime content leader at every level, Skipper literally controlled what sports fans saw in the much of the world.
Fortunately, former ESPN President and Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer is coming back to keep the network from falling adrift. The longtime leader and local benefactor - a room at the Bristol Boys & Girls Club has his name on it - had retired in 2014.
“I have great respect for John’s leadership, and I applaud the courage he’s demonstrating by addressing his challenge head on,” Bodenheimer wrote in his own statement. “The most important thing right now for John and his family is that he conquers his addiction, and the entire ESPN family is behind him.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger said it well: “I join John Skipper’s many friends and colleagues across the company in wishing him well during this challenging time. I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family.”
We hope that Skipper will be back on his feet after he gets the help he needs - and that the public gives him a chance to make a fresh start.