Rams Owner Stan Kroenke Faces Backlash In England For 'Blood Sport' Hunting TV Channel
Stan Kroenke is a busy guy. Aside from owning the L.A. Rams, the NBA's Denver Nuggets, and helming a group that's in charge of both the Pepsi Center in Denver and the upcoming Inglewood stadium (which will host the Rams and the Chargers), he's also the largest shareholder of Arsenal F.C., one of the biggest (European) football clubs on the planet.
Fans of the London-based team haven't been exactly happy with Kroenke; while the team has the most expensive ticket prices in the English Premier League, their record has been disappointing as of late. Now, they're directing their displeasure at another one of Kroenke's ventures: MyOutdoorTV, a kind of Netflix for hunting and other outdoor sports. The channel, which is available as a streaming app, is owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. While the TV service has been available in the U.S. since 2006, it wasn't until recently that Kroenke introduced it to the U.K.
The response has been largely negative, to say the least. TV presenter and self-described adventurer Ben Fogel wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post that called for the boycott of Arsenal:
If we really care about this, I call upon the nation to hit him where it really hurts, our great sport of football. Let him know we aren’t a nation that supports the killing of animals for fun, endangered or not. Boycott Arsenal and Save the Elephant.
MyOutdoorTV has even inspired Piers Morgan to overlook his differences with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn :
MyOutdoorTV features the graphic killing of wild animals. As noted at the Independent, one program showed a presenter shooting a critically endangered elephant. After the animal falls dead to the ground, the presenter turns to the camera and says "“There’s no other feeling in the world quite like walking up on your bull elephant." Another show, called Dark Continent Quest, featured an episode in which a hunter strikes a hartebeest in South Africa and waits for it to bleed to death. “It’s a good shot. Definitely, some liver and some lungs hit,” the hunter's guide says while the animal is still alive.
The channel also hosts something called Gun Clips With Joe Mantegna (the actor is a noted fan of firearms) and a Ted Nugent-hosted show called Spirit of the Wild, which is exactly like what you'd expect it to be.
MyOutdoorTV representatives, while defending the channel, say that the shows promote "ethical" approaches to hunting. “MOTV will present ethical, fair chase hunting and as long as it’s legal it will be on there,” said Simon Barr, a spokesman for the channel, told the Independent. “If you like hunting elephants, there will be legal elephant hunts, ethical elephant hunts, shown in that context.” Representatives also argue that the money generated from big game hunting can be turned around to help protect the animals and the habitats they roam in. This argument, however, has its detractors. As noted at Sky News, Philippa King, the chief operating officer at League Against Cruel Sports, said in a statement that the TV service was "sickening," adding that, "Most people won't agree that trophy-hunting is in any way ethical, and studies have debunked claims that most of the blood money goes towards supporting conservation."
Fogel echoed this claim in his op-ed, saying that while human intervention is sometimes needed to prevent the overpopulation of certain species, big game hunting is not the right answer for the issue. "[The] residual effect on the preservation of animals is negligible. Some of some animals within the area might be protected but we are deluded if we think it really makes a difference," wrote Fogel.
"Unlike footballers, who spend years mastering their sport, there's no skill required to kill an animal who's simply trying to survive: it involves only the movement of a finger," Elisa Allen, director of PETA UK, told LAist in an email. " Except for those dead in heart and head, everyone understands that lions, elephants, deer, and other animals are feeling individuals, not simply bodies waiting for their heads to be shot off and displayed on a wall."
And if you're wondering why you haven't heard much about a protest against MyOutdoorTV out here in the States, Fogel says it's a major cultural difference: "Many of our North American neighbours have a very different approach to shooting and hunting. Blood thirsty and gun happy, they have a rather mercenary relationship with wildlife."
LAist reached out to Kroenke Spots & Entertainment, but had yet to hear back as of publication.