NBC announcer apologizes for comments about Simone Biles' parents

Simone Biles of the United States performing her floor routine during the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Qualification round at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Simone Biles. (Getty Images)

As he was discussing the background of Team USA gymnast Simone Biles on Sunday night, NBC gymnastics announcer Al Trautwig referred to Biles’ adoptive parents, Ron and Nellie Biles, as her “grandparents.” Ron and Nellie Biles are indeed Biles’ biological grandparents, but adopted Simone and her sister Adria in 2001. Simone and Adria’s mother, Ron Biles’ daughter, struggled with drugs and alcohol.

[Related: Simone Biles dominates women’s qualifying]

Trautwig’s reference to Ron and Nellie as “grandparents” rather than parents angered adoption advocates, and when one reached out to Trautwig on Twitter, he doubled down:

Simone Biles’ coach Aimee Boorman added her opinion on the matter:

Twitter reacted to Trautwig’s lines with characteristic levelheaded restraint, with demands for Trautwig’s firing coalescing under the hashtag #FireTrautwig. Trautwig offered an apology on Monday afternoon, as reported by USA Today:

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“I regret that I wasn’t more clear in my wording on the air,” he said in a statement emailed by NBC Sports. “I compounded the error on Twitter, which I quickly corrected. To set the record straight, Ron and Nellie are Simone’s parents.”

With an audience of billions listening, announcers are under tremendous pressure to speak in the moment while respecting a range of opinions and sensitivities. Fellow NBC announcer Dan Hicks has also taken heat for saying the coach/husband of swimmer Katinka Hosszu is “the man responsible” for her recent success.

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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