Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the press box.
I've been watching sports for a long time. I've probably watched over 100 bowl games in my days so far, and this year I was impressed. There were more women reporters, and not just the short skirt, high-heeled, blond-haired eye candy either. Real sports reporters.
I don't mean to say that these were not attractive women, but this year they seem to know their sports. I was feeling very empowered until I saw the headline.
This ESPN announcer, Ron Franklin, was talking to Rod Gilmore about how his wife was just elected mayor of Alameda, CA during a production meeting before the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Years Eve. When sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards made a comment about the election, Gilmore said, "Why don't you leave this to the boys, sweetcakes?"
2) This conversation was about a woman being elected to a powerful office, and while I don't know what Edwards comment was, I feel fairly confident that "Why don't you leave this to the boys, sweetcakes" was an inappropriate response.
Jeannine Edwards, not one to shy away from the likes of Ron Franklin stated clearly, "Don't call me sweetcakes. I don't like to be talked to like that."
To which Franklin responded, "Okay then, Asshole."
Even if the first comment hadn't been unseemly, the second one surely crossed the line.
I have no idea what is wrong with Ron Franklin that he thinks it is okay to talk to a co-worker like that. I don't think he should talk to any woman like that, and while I honestly think I would rather be called asshole than sweetcheeks, I fully expect not to be called either one at work during a production meeting.
ESPN tried to pull Ron Franklin from the broadcast that night but they were unable to find a replacement that quickly on a holiday and during such a busy sports season. I was watching that game, and I never would have suspected a thing. Both reporters handled themselves very professionally.
I do give ESPN credit for finding a new announcer for the Fiesta Bowl the next day.
I don't give ESPN credit for having this guy on the air in the first place. Franklin has been acting like a misogynist since 2005.
During a Notre Dame-Purdue game in 2005, he was involved in an on-air incident with sideline reporter Holly Rowe. Praising Purdue's defensive strategy despite Notre Dame's big lead, Rowe asked, "If the coaches are giving up, what does that say to the players?" Franklin responded, "Holly, it's not giving up, it's 49-21, sweetheart."
- Mary Philips-Sandy, AOL News
It seems like it all goes back to the outdated idea that women can't understand sports or politics. I can't believe that after five years of covering sports for BlogHer this still comes up so often. Ron Franklin was talking to a sports reporter about politics in one case and to a sideline reporter about football in the other case. These women are educated and they work for ESPN. It isn't easy to get an on-air job at ESPN. It is insulting that he seems to see Edwards and Rowe as lesser people because they have vaginas.
Ron Franklin strikes me as the kind of guy that slaps his waitress on the ass and thinks it is acceptable.
When are women going to be seen as equals in broadcasting? When are we going to be seen as equals in sports reporting?
No wonder so many outstanding journalists jumped at the chance to switch over to espnW.
FOLLOW UP: ESPN has released a statement saying that Ron Franklin no longer works there.
Photo Credit: John Athayde.
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