ESPN embroiled in two separate commentator controversies

Published On January 9, 2013 | By Arielle Aronson

It’s very common for sports fans to complain about commentators during a game, but recently, fans watching on ESPN have had very legitimate reasons to complain about ESPN broadcasters.

ESPN “First Take” panelist Rob Parker found himself in some hot water when he question Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III‘s authenticity as an African-American, asking fellow panelists if RG III “was a brother or a cornball brother”. Parker was originally suspended for 30 days for his comments, but his suspension became permanent Tuesday when ESPN announced it would not renew his contract.

“Rob Parker’s contract expired at year end,” said ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys in a tweet. “Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew.”

Soltys also had some explaining to do when it came to announcer Brent Musburger, who spent a portion of the BCS Championship game gushing over Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron‘s girlfriend, Katherine Webb.

“Wow, I’m telling you quarterbacks: You get all the good-looking women,” Musburger said. “What a beautiful woman. Wow! Woah!” Musburger then suggested that young children across Alabama start throwing around a football so that they too could grow up to have a girlfriend like Webb.

The focus on Webb became the most interesting part of the 42-14 Alabama blowout, so ESPN found itself having to apologize for how far the commentary about Webb went. While ESPN tried to explain the focus on Webb originally was for rivalry reasons (since Webb graduated from Alabama-rival Auburn University), it admitted that the commentary had gone too far.

“We always try to capture interesting storylines, and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test,” Soltys said in a statement. “However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far, and Brent understands that.”

Did Musburger and Parker truly cross the line in each of these situations? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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About The Author

Arielle Aronson is a sports writer and recent graduate from Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Print Journalism Magna Cum Laude. Arielle has a passion for sports cultivated from growing up with two older brothers. She also enjoys playing the piano, reading and traveling.