Just before The Match: Champions for Charity event was set to kick off on Sunday, sportscaster Ernie Johnson took to the air to explain why he wasn’t hosting the nationally broadcasted event on CBS, which is set to raise millions of dollars for coronavirus relief efforts.
Johnson explained in a video promo that he chose not to call the event out of precaution for his son Michael, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, a disease that causes severe respiratory issues. The veteran sports analyst expressed his worry that hosting The Match could lead him to bring COVID-19 back home, which could possibly put Michael’s life in danger.
In the moving video, Johnson said that he had no choice but to turn down this high-profile opportunity, which most sportscasters would kill to host. During The Match, the superstar line-up features Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning competing against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady.
Johnson also noted this kind of tough decision making was not unique to him, how so many people around the world are being forced to weigh these “risk-and-reward components” before doing any activity outside their home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I would’ve loved to have been down there,” Johnson said, who regularly shares photos of himself and his son on Instagram. Michael, who was adopted by Johnson and his wife Cheryl from Romania, has survived by living on a ventilator for the past 9 years. He will celebrate his 31st birthday on August 3.
Johnson, a father of six said, “I just didn’t think it was worth the risk of bringing in an unseen foe into our house. And the questions come back: What’s safe, what’s wise, what’s too cautious, where’s your faith, where’s your courage? The answers could be as elusive as the remedy which could bring us a glimpse of normalcy.”
While ‘The Match’ Dealt With a Weather Delay, Reactions to Johnson’s Video Flooded Twitter
While The Match was initially set to kick off at 3 p.m. ET, due to the thunderstorms taking place in Hobe Sound, Florida, the start time was pushed back. In the meantime, viewers waiting at home for a sporting event to finally take place live on TV, couldn’t get Johnson’s video off their mind.
For many fans of Johnson, who also calls NBA games for TNT, their initial reaction to seeing Johnson’s name trending on Twitter caused fear that something bad may have happened to him, worries that are all the more heightened amid a global pandemic. But thankfully, their worst fears were just that.
ESPN Radio host Christopher Gabriel tweeted at Johnson saying, “Wow. When he monologues, he consistently offers a healthy dose of perspective layered with passion, nuance and heart. He’s top tier in broadcasting, yet forever still that kid from Milwaukee. #TheMatch.”
After watching Johnnson’s promo, DC Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy tweeted, “Great segment by Ernie Johnson. It captured the national mood – the struggle over how to do the right thing & keep people safe & get the country going & find hope & joy and the “risk and reward” in the fight against this “unseen foe” – better than anything else I’ve yet seen.”