The ongoing conflict over removing statues that represent the Confederacy has led to arguments, riots, and even death. At some point, the question must be asked, how far will we go to be politically correct? Well, if you ask ESPN anchor Robert Lee, we’ve probably gone too far. He’s been pulled from covering a college football game — simply because of his name.
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In a controversial decision, ESPN pulled Lee, an Asian-American sportscaster, from covering the upcoming Virginia University football game because his name resembles former Confederate general, Robert E. Lee.
The network reported their decision to pull the sportscaster from the upcoming Virginia vs. William & Mary football game in a press release. In part, the statement explained that they were concerned with the possibility of social media memes connecting their reporter to the former general.
They also cited the recent riot in Charlotteville, Virginia, where violence erupted between white nationalists and protestors, resulting in 19 people being injured and the death of one woman.
ESPN indicated that they asked Lee if he would be willing to announce another game instead. “We didn’t tell him. We asked him. Eventually we mutually agreed to switch,” the statement reads.
“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.”
Lee was informed that he would be calling the play by play for the upcoming Youngstown State at Pittsburgh on Sept 2. The network’s decision has been criticized.
Twitter was in a collective uproar when the news was released.
Lee has yet to comment on the network’s decision to pull him from the scheduled Virginia game. ESPN has been struggling to entice viewers, but we’re not sure if this decision helped — or hurt — their cause.