ESPN has pulled an Asian-American announcer from calling a University of Virginia football game because his name is Robert Lee. This is not a joke.
The liberal angst over anything even tangentially associated with the Confederate States of America has reached an all-time high, as ESPN decided to replace Lee on the broadcast “simply because of the coincidence of his name.”
As we all know, Robert E. Lee was a famous Confederate general. Lee’s life, as well as other Confederate figures have been commemorated with statues all over the southern United States, including in Charlottesville, Virginia. A statue of Lee was at the center of the “Unite the Right” white nationalist protests, which erupted into violence and resulted in a woman’s death.
Before today, it’s likely that relatively few people knew of ESPN’s Robert Lee before this incident. Lee (who has no relation to General Lee, as it apparently must be stated) started working at ESPN in 2016.
ESPN had planned for Lee to be in the announcer’s booth Sept. 2 for the Virginia’s first game, against the College of William and Mary, which will be broadcast on the ACC Network.
Now, Robert Lee, the broadcaster, has become an online sensation, trending on Twitter and evoking responses of disbelief on social media. Many people thought the story was a prank before ESPN’s statement was confirmed to be real.
I'm sitting here blown away about the ESPN Robert Lee story. You can't make this shit up. Ron Burgundy is running ESPN.
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) August 23, 2017
ESPN 'Robert Lee' statement
'We regret that who calls play by play for game has become an issue'
YOU MADE IT AN ISSUE, ESPN! Are u insane? pic.twitter.com/VmhOp6Y9oG
— Chet Cannon (@Chet_Cannon) August 23, 2017
In their apparent attempt to avoid controversy, ESPN has made a huge issue out of what could have been nothing. But this unexpected fame could at least give Lee’s career a boost. The broadcaster, not the Confederate general, since ESPN thinks people might get the two confused.