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College football and basketball reporter Allison Williams is choosing to leave ESPN rather than fall in line with the Disney-owned network’s vaccine mandate, she said this weekend.
Williams has been outspoken in opposing mandated vaccination, saying she made the decision as she and her husband are trying to conceive a second child. She has been with ESPN since 2011.
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“Williams was able to remain employed by ESPN under its vaccine mandate as long as she wasn’t covering games live,” wrote Zac Al-Khateeb of Sporting News. “But Disney’s companywide mandate will go into effect Oct. 22. Williams said Disney denied her request for accommodation to not get the vaccine, resulting in her decision to leave the company ‘effective next week.'”
While Williams said the reason she was leaving was to conceive a second child, she added she would not support the vaccine mandate under any circumstance.
“Belief is a word I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, because in addition to the medical apprehensions regarding my desire to have another child in regards to receiving this injection, I am also so morally and ethically not aligned with this,” Williams said in her post.
“And I’ve had to really dig deep and analyze my values and my morals, and ultimately I need to put them first. And the irony in all this is that a lot of these same values and morals that I hold dear are what made me a really good employee, what helped with the success that I’m able to have in my career.”
“And it wasn’t that long ago that those values were aligned with the Walt Disney Company. In April, they sent out an email to all cast members saying they believed the vaccine was the best way forward, but ultimately that the decision to get it was a personal decision. Their values have clearly changed. I understand that. I don’t know what it’s like to run a multi-billion dollar company and to have shareholders and board members and financial quotas to answer to.”
Williams adds that even though she respects that Walt Disney’s values have changed, but she hoped that the company would respect that hers haven’t changed. “Ultimately, I cannot put a paycheck over principle,” Williams noted. “I will not sacrifice something that I believe and hold so strongly to maintain a career.”
As for the people that say getting the vaccine is part of being a good neighbor, Williams says she thought about the implications, but that it didn’t change her mind.
“We all want to be good neighbors. We all want to end this pandemic. But ultimately, an injection that does not stop transmission and spread, for me, did not weigh in morally.”
She admitted her future in broadcasting is uncertain, given that Joe Biden is mandating vaccination for company’s with more than 100 employees.
“I don’t know what the future holds, obviously, for any of us. I’m trying to wrap my head around the thought that the largest game I’ve worked in my career, the national championship game, might be the last game I work,” Williams said. “But I’m going to focus on what I have to be thankful for. I’m going to hold on to my faith. I’m going to pray that things get better, and that I can see you on the television set in some capacity, in some stadium, covering some game soon. Until then, God bless, and I’m going to go hug my baby.”