PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — People in Pittsburgh apparently don’t agree with the controversial decision by the sports network ESPN to move an Asian-American announcer off the Sept. 2 University of Virginia football game because his name is Robert Lee.
The network said in a statement, “in the moment it felt right” to switch Lee to announcing the University of Pittsburgh game against Youngstown State because Lee’s name is the same as the Confederate general whose statue in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked a clash between white supremacists and their opponents that resulted in the death of a woman protester.
Charlottesville is home to UVA.
Walking through Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh, Gianna Alberti and Vito Sarullo, who are moving here from New Jersey, said they think the decision was wrong.
“I definitely don’t think you can categorize people based on their name. He’s no relation to Robert E. Lee. That’s just ridiculous,” said Alberti. “He’s probably a great person who just has that name.”
Her companion, Sarullo, agrees.
“The guy doesn’t deserve it. It’s his name. It’s not fair,” hr said.
Masoud House echoed the thought, “If he’s not like the people who are trying to keep us divided on racial lines, and he’s a good guy, we can’t fault him for his name — his parents gave it to him, it’s not him.”
Even though ESPN says broadcaster Lee went along with the decision, fearing he might be mocked, Aaron Yingling, of Homestead, says he thinks the move goes overboard in terms of political correctness.
“That makes no sense. I think they’re going too deep into it,” he said.
Political pundits appear to agree.
Sports Illustrated Richard Deitsch says he thinks the decision was made out of fear of negative press.
Former Arkansas governor and Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee took it a step further, calling ESPN the “Embarassing Society of Politically-Correct Nutjobs.”
In several mocking tweets, Huckabee says, “ESPN will not broadcast games of any kind from Jackson, Mississippi, for fear it might honor Stonewall… Jackson and trigger someone,” and “ESPN will no longer air football games on TV as referees are dressed in black and white and that could be viewed as…racism.”
ESPN now known as "Embarrassing Society of Politically-Correct Nutjobs."
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) August 23, 2017
For Jolene Jaecke, who was also passing through Market Square on her way to a convention, it’s all become too much.
“I think all of the divide in the country is not a good thing. I think we just need to learn about more love and less fighting,” she said.