The executives who run ESPN have been bitten by the bug that gives human beings a case of the heebie-jeebies.
The bite came from that riot that erupted two weekends ago in Charlottesville, Va. Neo-Nazis, Klansmen and assorted white supremacists gathered to march against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park; counter protesters showed up, too, and a clash commenced. A young woman was run down by someone who allegedly has white supremacist sympathies.
How did ESPN react to all of this? It pulled a sportscaster who was scheduled to call a college football game this weekend between the University of Virginia and William & Mary College. Oh, yes, UVa is located in Charlottesville. The sportscaster’s name: Robert Lee.
Good grief, ESPN! Get a grip here.
I consider this to be a serious overreaction. Yes, the issue at hand also is serious. ESPN wants to remove any potential for controversy or conflict. So, it yanked a young man with the name Robert Lee off its broadcast? ESPN issued a statement: “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.”
I have an option for ESPN to ponder: Refer to him on-air as Bob Lee, or Bobby Lee, or Robby Lee. I suppose I also should mention that Lee is of Asian descent.
I believe ESPN has gotten spooked beyond what is reasonable.