After 25 years with ESPN, announcer Ron Franklin was fired today because he used a sexist term to refer to his colleague Jeannine Edwards. Reports have varied about what the actual term he used was, but most say it was "sweet baby."
It was during a pre-game production meeting before the Chick-fil-A bowl. Apparently Edwards was talking with someone, and Franklin interrupted by saying, "Listen to me, sweet baby, let me tell you something... "
Sexist and demeaning? Yes, but Edwards handled herself pretty damn well and told him not to talk to her like that. He responded like a jerk and retorted with, "OK, then listen to me, a--hole." But what could have been left at just that -- a jerk interrupting a woman who wouldn't stand for it -- has been blown to gigantic proportions after a colleague reported the incident.
First Franklin was pulled from Fiesta Bowl coverage as punishment. Then yesterday, he offered an apology, a less-than-stellar one, but an apology nonetheless.
"I said some things I shouldn't have and am sorry," he said in a statement. "I deserved to be taken off the Fiesta Bowl."
Then today, wham, ESPN delivered the blow, and axed him.
“Based on what occurred last Friday, we have ended our relationship with him,” Josh Krulewitz, a spokesman for ESPN, said.
While it's great to see ESPN taking gender issues seriously, it also feels a little bit like some big strong guy rushing in to save a fair maiden who doesn't need saving. Sexual harassment is one thing -- and ESPN has had to deal with plenty of that, and not always appropriately -- but some old guy using a term like "sweet baby" just makes him a jerk.
It seems like they're using Franklin as an example to show they're serious about fighting sexual harassment -- which they should be -- but I don't think Franklin is the kind of example that's going to help. If we act as if women can't handle any kind of verbal slight, then we're really doing ourselves more harm than good when it comes to being treated equally.
Of course, there's a fine line of where such behavior can lead, and there's more than plenty of room for improvement in the way women are treated in the workplace, but there's also an old adage about sticks and stones.
Do you think ESPN firing Ron Franklin is an overreaction or a victory for women?
Image via CNN