ESPN faces backlash over Robert Lee decision.
An ESPN broadcaster by the name of Robert Lee has been informed that he will not be calling the University of Virginia's home opener football game on September 2nd "simply because of the coincidence of his name." Instead, Robert Lee, who was recently promoted by ESPN, has been switched to the Youngstown versus Pitt game.
ESPN's decision to pull Lee from the Virginia game stems from the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month, when a mob of white nationalists protested the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The night before the tragedy in Charlottesville, which left one woman dead and 19 others injured, white nationalists marched across the University of Virginia campus carrying torches and chanting racist slogans.
ESPN released the following statement regarding their decision to pull Robert Lee, an Asian American broadcaster, from the UVA vs William and Mary game.
"We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic event 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."
According to a report by USA Today, an ESPN spokesperson said the network “feared Robert Lee, a young, new play-by-play announcer assigned to the Virginia-William & Mary game on opening weekend would show up in Twitter memes and posts on Web sites like Awful Announcing or Deadspin.”
There was plenty of outrage directed at ESPN over their decision to switch Robert Lee off of the Virginia Cavaliers' home opener.
Just received this email from an ESPN executive re the Robert Lee controversy. pic.twitter.com/OuBORlWO9f— Yashar Ali (@yashar) August 23, 2017
ESPN PR team:— Allie Stuckey (@conservmillen) August 23, 2017
Air draft auction where white men trade black men: Not a bad idea.
Have Asian reporter named Robert Lee: OVER OUR DEAD BODY
the #robertlee story may be a good sign: preemptively surrender to the invisible threat of faux rage, and it blows up in your face.— GregGutfeld (@greggutfeld) August 23, 2017
ESPN pulls asian sportscaster off college football game because his name is Robert— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) August 23, 2017
Their gonads have shrunk to the size of english peas
Irony— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) August 23, 2017
1. Punishing an Asian-American for his last name out of fear of racism.#RobertLee
ESPN claims the #RobertLee thing was about memes, but by pulling him, they created a cat-5 meme hurricane.— neontaster (@neontaster) August 23, 2017
Smart move, idiots.
ESPN pulling announcer named "Robert Lee" from a UVa game isn't "liberal." It's idiotic.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 23, 2017
Think ESPN management and pr is now realizing they brought more attention to Robert Lee had they not said a thing?— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) August 23, 2017