Mike Silva's Sports Media Watchdog » Blog Archive » Political Correctness Gone Wild: The ESPN Overreaction

Political Correctness Gone Wild: The ESPN Overreaction



By Mike Silva ~ February 19th, 2012. Filed under: ESPN, Uncategorized.

We have really gone soft as a society. I always say there is a small contingent of people that wake up in the morning waiting to get offended. They carry enormous clout because of the large corporate dollars in media. These groups know that even the tiniest squeaky wheel can force a company to pull the precious advertising dollars from a media outlet.

It easily happens; think of the modern world of media as a sidewalk full of banana peels. You can avoid one or two, but it’s inevitable the “looking-to-get-offended” crowd finds the right one for a media conglomerate or personality to slip on. Some (see WFAN’s Craig Carton) make their living on being inappropriate. That makes it easy to point out and criticize their behavior. It also makes it justified because of the intent. In the case of the ESPN “Chink in the Armor” headline scenario, I think bad judgment led to an overreaction with the firing and suspension of the participants.

The ESPN.com headline “Chink in the Armor” that described Jeremy Lin’s 9-turnover performance on Friday certainly was preventable. You always have to think twice, submit once, when you write something on the web. I recently made a bad editorial decision over at my baseball site, nybaseballdigest.com, in which I offended a mainstream writer. It was unintentional, but after a conversation with said writer, I made the proper edits to the story. I always say that you can criticize whomever you want, just as long as you can justify your actions to that person. That’s why you will never see handles or pseudonyms on any of my projects. I stand by my work and will take the fall for any mistakes or edits. My email and phone number are readily available to talk to anyone.

What made the ESPN.com headline even worse was how the same mistake was made by one of their television anchors (Max Bretos) and on the radio. ESPN moved swiftly to issue an apology for the headline that was in poor taste, but the memo didn’t get to Bretos, who used it in passing on a sports update, and an anchor on ESPN Radio, who used referenced the term “chink in the armor,” as well.

I have used the term “chink in the armor” in my writing and radio. Not once have I intended to offend Asian-Americans. I also don’t see how “chink in the armor” references Asian-Americans. I suspect the only reason this was an issue for ESPN was because Jeremy Lin was part of the discussion. If Toney Douglas were on a similar 7-game run and committed 9 turnovers, would it have mattered? Would the blogosphere make as big a deal?

Here is the kicker. I am defending ESPN despite the fact they are known to not cite the work of other outlets; often using it as their own scoop. I view them as the arrogant leader, a big media conglomerate that, at times, flexes its financial might in a boorish way. When you live by that type of credo, there are tons of people waiting to pick you off. The “Chink in the Armor” headline was exactly the ammunition for the little guy to fight back. Remember, this was pointed out by the blogosphere, not any mainstream media critics.

We don’t know the inner details, but I have a hard time believing that any of the participants knowingly went out to make derogatory statements about Lin or the Asian-American community. I say this also knowing how the attention he is getting is bothering many. Lin is viewed as an outsider taking the spotlight away from African-Americans in their game. Any failure will be met with joy by non-Knicks partisans. Lin is the anti-NBA star; educated, moral and articulate. He lives his life off-the-court in a way that fans can relate. More so than Lebron, Kobe or even his teammate, Carmelo Anthony.

I also wonder if Bretos were African-American, and not white, would he have been disciplined? Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports made an overtly derogatory comment about Lin last week and I don’t see Fox Sports removing him from their coverage. In that case an apology was enough; of course, Whitlock is African-American, so the same rules don’t always apply.

ESPN has done a great job putting a target on their back. Unfortunately, the wrong people take the fall in this case.

The Jeremy Lin story has finally transcended basketball. It’s opened up dialogue about race, education and various racial stereotypes. It’s become a minefield for anyone to discuss because of the nature of the PC crowd. Maybe it’s time to get over it before we lose track of what this is: a great human interest and sports story.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to Political Correctness Gone Wild: The ESPN Overreaction

  1. Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » Nauseating MLB Political Correctness at it Again

    [...] Yesterday I wrote at Sports Media Watchdog about the public overreaction to the ESPN “Chink in the Armo…; today I came across a story about MLB messing with tradition in the name of political correctness. [...]

  2. Mike Silva's Sports Media Watchdog » Blog Archive » Steve Phillips Says Mets Are The Toughest Job in Sports

    [...] Nary a word was mentioned in the mainstream media, which was somewhat surprising. Yes, Twitter and the blogosphere did light up right after his comment, but nowhere near the hysteria we saw earlier this year with the “chink in the armor” ESPN situation and Jeremy Lin. [...]

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