Apparently, even being Asian doesn’t mean people won’t take you for being a white nationalist.
ESPN confirmed Tuesday night that it had decided to pull an announcer from calling a University of Virginia football game because his name is Robert Lee. This Robert Lee is Asian.
“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,” reads the ESPN statement posted at the popular Fox Sports college-football blog Outkick the Coverage.
“Did I mention that Robert Lee is Asian?” wrote disbelieving blogger Clay Travis, who first broke the story, citing “multiple Outkick fans inside ESPN.”
Mr. Lee had been scheduled to call the Cavaliers Sept. 2 game in Charlottesville against William and Mary.
“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,” ESPN said in its statement.
That wasn’t the “shame” Mr. Travis had in mind, ridiculing the sports-network leviathan for political correctness, calling it “MSESPN.”
“They were concerned that having an ASIAN FOOTBALL ANNOUNCER NAMED ROBERT LEE would be offensive to some viewers,” he wrote.
The fatal violence in Charlottesville earlier this month grew out of a white-nationalist and neo-Nazi march in favor of keeping up a statue of Robert E. Lee — “the Confederate General who died in 1870 and shares a name with” the ESPN announcer, Mr. Travis helpfully explained.
“Is there anything more pathetic than ESPN believing people would be offended by an Asian guy named Robert Lee sharing a name with Robert E. Lee and calling a football game? Aside from some hysterical photoshops and Internet memes which would make everyone with a functional brain laugh — Robert E. Lee pulling out all the stops to stay in Charlottesville now! — what was the big fear here? Does ESPN really believe people are this dumb or that having an Asian announcer named Robert Lee is too offensive for the average TV viewer to handle?” Mr. Travis asked rhetorically.
“Yes, yes they do,” he answered.
Mr. Lee will travel to Pittsburgh and call the Pitt Panthers game with Youngstown State and the Cavaliers game will be announced by Dave Weekley, the blogpost stated.
There remain other opportunities for protest at the Cavaliers’ football game though. The William & Mary team is the Tribe.
• Victor Morton can be reached at email@example.com.
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