ESPN execs might want to try a little awareness training with their announcers
If ESPN is the pinnacle of the sports reporting world, then I’m glad right now I’m down here in the ruts.
Right now the sporting network giant is fast becoming an expert at apologizing. In the past week they’ve said “We’re sorry” more times than President Murkin Muffley made the same utterances to the Soviet Union’s premier in the movie “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”
Let’s recap. First, is Robert Parker, a panelist on the network’s “First Take” program. In a Dec. 14 airing of the show on ESPN2, Parker questioned the “blackness” of Robert Griffin III, he of RG3 of Washington D.C.’s NFL team.
The reason? RG3 has a white wife and that, he may be a Republican.
I’m not going to repeat what Parker said here, you can find it anywhere on the Web if you haven’t heard it already. Besides, ESPN apologized, put him on administrative leave, essentially, and then refused to renew his contract, which is a nice, professional way of saying he was fired.
Forward we go to Brett Musberger.
Early on in the laugher that was the BCS title game between Alabama and Notre Dame, Musberger remarked to color commentator Herb Kirkstreet on the obvious beauty that is Katherine Webb, Miss Alabama and the girlfriend of Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron.
Musberger said, among several things as Webb’s visage was displayed on TV screens across the country and around the world, that “you quarterbacks (of which Kirkstreet was one at Ohio State) get all the good looking women. What a beautiful woman. Wow!”
Musberger then offered a piece of advice to all would-be quarterbacks likely below the age of 10 to get with their dads and “start throwing the ball around.” The backwards writing in this statement reads, “Get good at hucking the pigskin so that you too can have a woman like this.”
In the days after the game neither Webb nor McCarron expressed any concern about the comments, and in fact told several news sources they were flattered. ESPN thought otherwise, issuing a “We’re sorry” with the comment that the “commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that.”
Musberger declined to comment on the incident. But Monday, apparently he let loose with another one when signing off from the Baylor-Kansas men’s basketball game, he said “For (analyst) Fran Fraschilla and (sideline reporter) Holly Rowe, who was really smokin’ tonight.”
ESPN didn’t exactly apologize for this – yet, but instead contends Musberger really said “It was smokin’ tonight.”
I’m not going to defend Parker, and in fact there is plenty of good commentary out there taking him to the cleaners for his remarks. It’s a shame we haven’t learned to start getting past that mentality, which is a form of racism on both accounts, Griffin and his wife.
As for Musberger, what he said about Webb was true, she’s a beauty. So by the way is Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s wife, Ashton.
Two quarterbacks, two good looking significant others. Three if you toss in Griffin, four to add Tom Brady, five if…well maybe you get the point.
Maybe Musberger went on too long about Webb, and I can see that making some people uncomfortable, especially considering the age gap. If what he said about Rowe is true, and not ESPN’s contention, the veteran sports announcer may need to become the former sports announcer, or at least one taking some awareness classes.
Until then, call ‘em like you see ‘em.
One last thing, every now and then you need to give out kudos, especially to local athletes. As such, I’d like to award Cheney sophomore basketball player Alex Berman with the Spinal Tap Volume Control Award for scoring 11 points in all three games last week.
Oh yeah, he also hit a big 3 to force overtime against West Valley and five points in overtime of the Blackhawks win over East Valley. Great job man!
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.