Sports and politics. They don't mix; never have, never will. You think fans fight over Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s talent or Yankees vs. Red Sox? That's nothing compared to, say, an Obama-vs.-Tea Party throwdown. We turn to sports to get away from the problems of the real world, not vent about them.
So woe to the sports figures who do air their political beliefs, as Fox Sports' Chris Myers has learned, because no matter what you say, half the country's going to disagree with you. Myers, one of Fox's NASCAR announcers, was filling in for Dan Patrick on his radio show earlier this week when the discussion turned to the flood disaster in Nashville. Several NASCAR stars have helped out in relief efforts, and Myers made that point — and, unfortunately for his sake, took it a bit further:
It's a great country here. We have disasters issues when people pull together and help themselves and I thought the people in Tennessee, unlike — I'm not going to name names — when a natural disaster hits people weren't standing on a rooftop trying to blame the government, okay. They helped each other out through this.
And Mike Helton, president of NASCAR, Tony Stewart, among some drivers went from the race over to the middle Tennessee area where still a lot of hardworking, tax-paying, legal American citizens have been affected by the floods and are trying to rebuild their lives and they are helping out. And I think that other people around the country, of course the music industry in and around Nashville helping, without making a big deal out of it and I think that's a good thing.
Oof. Now, certainly, some people can take offense at pretty much anything, and there are plenty of cases where a public figure has said something relatively innocent, some special-interest group has taken extreme umbrage, and said public figure has had to backpedal meekly. But there's not a whole lot of mistaking what he's talking about when he mentions people standing on rooftops, is there?
You can take it further and bring in a racial component — certainly, several observers have already done that — but let's not go that far. Let's just look at this at face value. Myers was clearly taking a shot at New Orleans, and FOX Sports responded accordingly. Ed Goren, president of FOX Sports, indicated that there is now a "serious elevated discussion with Mr. Myers." We'll leave it to you to decide what "elevated discussion" means, but it doesn't sound like there'll be tea and cakes.
New Orleans, naturally, jumped into the fray. Mayor Mitch Landrieu termed the comments "offensive and unacceptable," and expressed regret because Myers once lived and worked in New Orleans.
Myers, for his part, expressed regret for the comments. "I would very much like to apologize to you and the people of New Orleans for the inappropriate and insensitive remarks I made this past Monday," Myers said. "Clearly, these remarks demonstrated poor judgment and I sincerely regret making them."
Myers added that New Orleans "will always be a special place to me and my family, and I certainly would never want to offend the people of this terrific city. I wish you and every citizen of New Orleans nothing but my very best and I hope the entire city can forgive me and accept my deepest apology."
Should that end it? Absolutely. Dumb comment, he took responsibility, move on. Will it? We'll see. It would be a shame if this cost Myers anything more than a couple nights' sleep.