A Broadcaster by Any Other Name: ESPN Pulls Asian Announcer Because His Name Is Robert Lee
The network came under fire after Lee was taken off the broadcast for UVA's football home opener.
ESPN is at the center of controversy after pulling a sportscaster from a broadcast because of his name: Robert Lee.
The Asian-American announcer has the same name as the confederate general whose statue was at the heart of the alt-right protest in Charlottesville, Va., that later erupted into violence that left a woman dead.
Lee was slated to call the upcoming University of Virginia football team's season opener, but has since been reassigned after the network felt he would be subjected to ridicule.
"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,” ESPN said in a statement.
"In that moment it felt right to all parties," the network added. "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 emphasizes that the network didn't force Lee to switch assignments and that he felt more comfortable calling another game.
Lee will instead appear on the Youngstown-Pitt broadcast on the same day as the UVA’s opener against the William & Mary Tribe.
The network came under fire on social media from fans, political pundits and Twitter-happy politicians like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
"ESPN will not broadcast games of any kind from Jackson, Miss., for fear it might honor Stonewall or Andrew Jackson and trigger someone," Huckabee wrote.
Think ESPN management and pr is now realizing they brought more attention to Robert Lee had they not said a thing?August 23, 2017
BREAKING NEWS!! ESPN announces UVA game will be announced by Ulysses S. Grant not Robert Lee. pic.twitter.com/anqNBlPtrpAugust 23, 2017
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