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.