As the country continues to face the effects of the Charlottesville protests and continue to relocate statues dedicated to confederate icons, the sports network ESPN pulled their new play-by-play announcer Robert Lee from his assignment at the Virginia-William & Mary game this upcoming weekend.
Lee is an Asian-American sportscaster and started at ESPN in 2016. ESPN pulled Lee from his assignment in order to prevent any backlash the company may face following the events in Charlottesville, which is home to the University of Virginia.
On August 12, a driver rammed his car into a crowd of protesters fighting back against a white-nationalist group that was demanding the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville. The driver ended up killing one person and injuring more than 12 other people.
ESPN decided to move Lee from the Virginia game to the Youngstown State Game in Pittsburgh. ESPN announced their decision via a statement.
“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.”
The announcement of Lee calling a different game, was leaked to Clay Travis from ‘Outkick the Coverage.’ Travis is a strong critic of ESPN and is known for accusing them of liberal bias. Travis originally posted the story on his site and it immediately exploded. Travis ended up appearing on Fox News’ ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight.’
ESPN has attempted to downplay the situation by saying that they often shuffle announcers around. ESPN also cited Lee’s safety as a deciding factor for pulling him from the Virginia game.
The decision by ESPN has received criticism online from many people calling it political correctness and one even asked ESPN “if an athlete’s name is Robert Lee are you going to not show their game?” Lee has not responded to EPSN’s decision but will call Pittsburgh game this weekend instead.