Recently, ESPN: The Worldwide Leader In Sports has caught national attention, and not for the right reasons. The U.S.-based sports programming channel, which launched 35 years ago and currently broadcasts to over 200 countries worldwide, is now finding itself under fire for the acts of two of its news reporters in the past two months.
Although ESPN is one of the most successful sports networks, it's getting to the point that it's hard to stick with them due to the recent controversies involving their broadcasters. As a viewer, I think that ESPN dropped the ball with how they've handled these recent controversies. Keith Olbermann and Britt McHenry should no longer have jobs with ESPN.
Back in late February, Keith Olbermann was temporarily taken off the air after an argument that he started on Twitter where he viciously bashed Penn State students by calling them "pitiful" after raising $13 million dollars in their annual dance marathon. He went on to call a Penn State degree worthless. His response a few weeks later on the Late Show with David Letterman: "I got into a dispute with some folks on Twitter, and it got personal because on Twitter you don't think of anybody else as an actual human being, just as something, somebody you have to bury." I'll let you be the judge of how sincere that sounds.
Fast-forward two months and Britt McHenry was suspended after a video surfaced of her verbally harassing a tow truck company employee by making fun of her social status, education and telling her to lose weight. Not to mention, McHenry has a past history of being rude and stuck up.
Believe it or not, these two instances weren't the first time an individual ESPN sports commentator has made national news for the wrong reasons. Stephen A. Smith, a well-known sports commentator, was suspended for a week back in July for his comments on domestic abuse. Bill Simmons, another ESPN sports columnist, was suspended in September for three weeks after calling NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell a liar. That makes four individual incidents since July.
In its own mission statement, ESPN states, “At ESPN we know the next big idea can come at any time from anyone. That's why we pride ourselves on recruiting the most capable minds... Our Diversity, Inclusion & Wellness team strives to hire, develop and retain talented people who represent our diverse global fans." Are these really the employees that they want representing the best sports network in the world? Apparently they do considering that they're still on the air. But as a viewer, I think that it's time to start implementing a “no tolerance" policy. We deserve better.