ESPN announcer pulled from broadcast after calling female coworker “sweetcakes”

headshots of Ron Franklin and Roger Sterling
Someone’s been watching too much Mad Men

Via The Frisky comes word that ESPN football announcer Ron Franklin was pulled from Saturday’s radio broadcast of the Fiesta Bowl after calling sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards “sweetcakes” in a meeting.

Yeah, seriously, “sweetcakes.” Ron Franklin likes his sexism old school.

The insult came after Edwards tried to join a conversation Franklin was having with another announcer. From the blog sportsbybrooks.com:

When [Edwards tried to join the conversation], Franklin said to her, “Why don’t you leave this to the boys, sweetcakes.”

Edwards responded to Franklin by saying, “don’t call me sweetcakes, I don’t like being talked to like that.”

When Edwards called Franklin out on his language he responded, “Okay then, asshole.” Because he is so very clever.

Apparently Franklin has a history of demeaning female colleagues. In 2005 he called sideline reporter Holly Rowe “sweetheart” while trying to undermine her commentary.

I’m glad to see a sports network respond to sexism in the workplace, especially sexist comments that didn’t actually make it on air. And I’m curious to see how serious the penalty against Franklin will be. Will he just be kept off one radio broadcast, or will he face a harsher penalty for apparently thinking he works in the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce?

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/neohfem1/ Amy Hanna

    So apparently he’s got a history of being an asshole. Good riddance!

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    There is still a lot of sexism in sports. For instance, I made the mistake the other day of reading a internet board devoted to sports fan. The subject in question concerned the fact that a woman (gasp) had called the game from the press booth, not as a sideline reporter.

    I read lots of really hurtful, ignorant remarks along the lines of “Women don’t understand sports”, “women don’t belong in the press booth”, or “I don’t trust a woman’s ability to call a good game”. And until that changes, there will be lots of resistance to gender equality. Sports, far too often, caters to the lowest common denominator, who are not known for being terribly progressive.

  • http://feministing.com/members/tigerrose13/ Kimberly

    Good for him!

  • http://feministing.com/members/kaelin/ Matt

    The Fiesta Bowl is a pretty big deal as far as college football is concerned — it’s regarded as one of the elite post-season college football games, although this year was a “down” year because one of the teams entitled to play in it wasn’t even regarded as a top 25 team (and I would just tack on that the FBS division of football only has one post-season game that actually matters — the others, including the Fiesta Bowl, are just exhibition games, although the Fiesta Bowl is in a class of four bowls that still generate large amounts of revenue despite not having a championship-related role).

    I would still find an employee showing that sort of behavioral problem (blatant workplace discrimination and being an unimaginative asshole) to require further intervention. It’s not the sort of belief or conduct that gets remedied with a single meeting with HR or an immediate supervisor.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kaelin/ Matt

    ESPN upgraded the suspension to a firing: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/04/AR2011010405045.html

    From my perspective, him calling someone “sweet baby” or “sweet cakes” is unlikely to have triggered the firing — those are sexist terms, but by themselves they could potentially be rectifiable. The answer really rests in the rest of cited quotes by the blog.

    “Why don’t you leave this to the boys…”

    “Okay then, asshole.”

    While him being a sexist served as a trigger this pair of quotes, the underlying problem is one person showing disrespect and hostility to a co-worker.

    People do inconsiderate things (including sexist things) a lot, and I think it would be a mistake to see them as being equivalent to more severe misconduct. In that vein, not all sexist behavior is created equal, and perhaps a point of emphasis is to classify the behavior according to its context and severity. I think we may sometimes undercut feminism by labeling things “sexist” rather than describing them with greater clarity according to the harms/consequences they present. It’s not that we can’t use the term, but judgments of behavior deserve greater detail.