ESPN Pulls Announcer Robert Lee From Virginia Football Game Because Of His Name

Worried that the Asian-American would be subjected to ridicule because he has a name similar to the Confederate Civil War general, ESPN makes a change.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

There are no bounds regarding what’s happened in Charlottesville, Virginia over the last couple of weeks. As little as it is in comparison to the real life tragedies which have occurred, the effects of the riots have now also spread into the sports world.

ESPN has a play-by-play announcer named Robert Lee. Lee was originally scheduled to announce the upcoming Virginia football home opener on September 2. However, because his name is similar to Robert E. Lee, the Confederate Civil War general, ESPN has moved him to a different assignment.

Some people were immediately upset with the decision.

ESPN claims the decision was mutual, clarifying that Lee will still work another game somewhere else.

Others understood the tough spot ESPN and Lee found themselves in.

So far Mr. Lee hasn’t said anything on his Twitter regarding the matter. But I tend to agree with the latter folk.

At first glance, this looks like a poor move by ESPN, an overcompensation to avoid a slight risk of a little mockery. But if Mr. Lee did agree to it, and the fact he’s being moved to another power five conference game in the same time zone on the same network, it’s not that drastic of a move. It’s simply a small gesture to avoid a potentially larger mockery. Tough spot to be in for all parties. And yes, very unfortunate — ridiculous really — that something like this even needs to be considered.


Josh Helmuth is the editor of Crave Sports. 

Photo: @SportingNews