“I’m American, honey. Our names don’t mean s**t.” – Butch Coolidge, Pulp Fiction, 1994.
This is a time of incredulousness in America and it appears insanity is the new normal. I could go on and on with examples of how news headlines more and more frequently appear they should be coming from the pages of satire sites like The Onion, Duffel Blog, and Article 107 News, but that would only delay from getting to the very ludicrous topic of today’s rant.
It appears that the sports media outlet, ESPN, has taken steps to prevent further emotional pain and racial disharmony by proactively managing their network in an effort to bring about more reconciliation than divisiveness. And kudos to them for being so forward thinking.
Did they suspend someone for Tweeting racist jokes or memes? Did they publicly call out a professional sports player for domestic violence or animal abuse? Did they spearhead a new campaign to raise awareness of an important cause or to raise money for charity?
No, they pulled an Asian announcer from covering a University of Virginia football game.
Do you hear that slamming noise inside your head? That was the sound of your brain slamming shut in an effort to protect itself from what it truly believes is some kind of malicious cyberattack against your psyche.
Yes, you absolutely read that correctly. ESPN has pulled an Asian sportscaster from a University of Virginia football game in order to prevent further racial divisiveness devastating the community in light of the recent horrific events in Charlottesville.
You might be inclined to ask why they did this and that would be a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. According to the sports blog, Outkick the Coverage, the issue with this particular sports journalist was his name.
Lee, who has been a sportscaster and play-by-play broadcaster since the mid-1990s and is bilingual in English and Mandarin has, according to ESPN, one glaring issue they needed to address. He shares a name with the late Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Oh, the horror.
Presumably, the name Robert Lee would be just too much for the average Virginia college football fan to handle in these delicate and tumultuous times. The network might find themselves liable for figuratively firing the first shot in the second American Civil War if they allowed this Confederate namesake to broadcast the play-by-play of the Virginia Cavaliers’ upcoming game.
According to Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage, ESPN provided him with this statement concerning the switch:
“We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue.”
Thus far, there is no indication if this is a preemptive move on the part of the network or if any person, persons, or groups made an actual complaint.
If this is indeed true, it may end up being the most ridiculous decisions ever made by a major media network since the decision to air Geraldo Rivera’s discovery of Al Capone’s vault live. As it stands, it appears ESPN made a decision to avoid being racially insensitive by not letting a minority reporter broadcast a college football game in the south.
As of this writing, there is no official word if this decision was made during Monday’s eclipse, although that would certainly explain a great deal.
Paul J. O’Leary is an Army and law enforcement veteran, but mostly considers himself a glorified class clown. He has written for The Havok Journal, Unapologetically American, The Rhino Den, and Article 107 News. You can follow him on Twitter at @pauljoleary.