Update: ESPN announcer fired for “sweet baby” remark

On Monday, Jos blogged about Ron Franklin, the ESPN announcer who was suspended for calling a female colleague “sweet baby,” (not, as we previously thought, “sweetcakes”) and then “asshole.” Jos wrote, “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?”

Well, it seems it’s the latter: Franklin has been fired. A statement from ESPN reads, “based on what occurred last Friday, we have ended our relationship with him.”

As the Washington Post reports, this is far from the first time that ESPN has had to discipline a male employee for sexually harassing a female one. But, says Dan Lebowitz, executive director of the Sport in Society program at Northeastern University, ESPN isn’t unusual in this way – it’s just more visible. ESPN’s “dysfunctional” culture, he said, “just mimics an inherent ill in our society. It’s more a reflection of overall societal behavior where women are mistreated in the workplace. Whether it’s the investment industry or the entertainment industry or something else, it’s across the board. It just seems more sensational at ESPN because they’re a very public entity.”

Still, it’s great to see ESPN take sexual harassment seriously, and I’m not sorry to see Franklin fired. Good riddance, sweetcakes!

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  1. Posted January 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    There is a hyper-masculine culture present within sports, not just ESPN. And part of what we are seeing here is push back. As more and more women enter a world that was once the exclusive domain of men, you’ll get more of this.

    In the beginning, sportscasters and sportswriters were exclusively male. They’re still primarily male, but women first began to take roles as sideline reporters at games. Then they were hired primarily as eye candy, though there has been an effort not just to hire female sideline reporters because they are physically attractive as of late. In short, this is going to take a while.

  2. Posted January 5, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to mostly cross-post the follow-up I added earlier to the old thread on this topic: http://feministing.com/2011/01/03/espn-announcer-pulled-from-broadcast-after-calling-female-coworker-sweetcakes/

    From my perspective, him calling someone “sweet baby” or “sweet cakes” is unlikely to have triggered the firing — those are sexist terms (a bad thing), 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…” (very bad thing)

    “Okay then, asshole.” (about unforgivable)

    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 necessarily equivalent to more severe misconduct. Not all sexist behavior is created equal, and perhaps a point of emphasis should be to classify the behavior according to its context and severity. I think we may sometimes undercut feminism by labeling things “sexist” and expecting heads to roll rather rather than describing the behavior 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. For Franklin in particular, he simply was rude and dismissive enough towards another worker to potentially get fired, and the fact he used sexist remarks in particular probably did not play a large part of that decision (nor did it need to) .

  3. Posted January 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Knew that was going to happen. Good riddance, asshole!

  4. Posted January 5, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    While there is definitely a hypermasculine culture in sports, it is good to see sports organizations are taking this seriously, because believe or not, young men are watching and the message will sink in.

    Just as with Franklin’s firing, Pittsburgh also fired its recently-hired coach (someone thought to turn its program around) after he was arrested for domestic violence.

    Sports still has a long way to go, but these signs are definitely encouraging.

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