Tue Jan 04 11:48am EST
ESPN announcer Ron Franklin was fired by the network on Tuesday after making made a derogatory remark to sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards in a meeting before the Fiesta Bowl. Franklin had been pulled from the game's coverage after the incident.
It's yet another incident at the sports network in which a female employee has been subjected to harassing behavior by a male co-worker. Popular television host Tony Kornheiser was suspended last year for comments made on-air about the wardrobe of "SportsCenter" anchor Hannah Storm, and former baseball analysts Harold Reynolds and Steve Phillips were fired for separate incidents involving demeaning behavior toward female employees. Current "Monday Night Football" announcer Mike Tirico was disciplined for harassment in 1992. And Deadspin has been zealous in its pursuit of other stories involving executives and other off-camera employees.
Franklin was reprimanded after a complaint was made about his behavior toward Edwards at a meeting. "Why don't you leave this to the boys, sweet baby?" Franklin allegedly said. When Edwards objected to the derogatory language, Franklin responded, "okay then, [expletive]."
The 68-year-old play-by-play announcer later apologized and said he deserved to be taken off the Fiesta Bowl broadcast. It didn't save him, as ESPN cut ties with him on Tuesday. In a statement, the network said briefly, "based on what occurred last Friday, we have ended our relationship with him."
Though the high-profile ESPN incidents make it seem as though the network is a hotbed for boorish behavior, Dan Lebowitz, the executive director of Sport in Society at Northeastern University told the Washington Post that it's no worse than in other male-dominated businesses.
"I hate to single out ESPN for having a dysfunctional culture," Lebowitz told the Post's Paul Farhi. "It just mimics an inherent ill in our society ... It just seems more sensational at ESPN because they're a very public entity."
Once the story proved to have legs throughout the holiday weekend, ESPN had little choice but to fire Franklin. The network should be praised for taking a stand, but the fact that it waited four days suggests that if the Franklin story had gone away quickly, he'd still have a job today.
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