ESPN’s Racist Jeremy Lin Headline Was Mind-Blowingly Ignorant

Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin, the Asian American, Harvard graduate, upcoming star point guard for the New York Knicks, faced his first loss on Friday to the lowly New Orleans Hornets after enjoying a seven-game winning streak. We've had to deal with the insanity of "Linsanity" while he was winning, but what was most interesting to see was how the media dealt with him when he lost. Needless to say, racism reared its ugly head in some of the coverage.

One of the biggest culprits was one of the biggest names in sports media: ESPN. Since Lin is defying all sorts of stereotypes, these kinds of comments about him are, unfortunately, expected -- but when it does happen, it's still very shocking and sad, especially when it comes from such well-respected sports media. Two ESPN employees were punished for their comments that had racial undertones, and it was the least ESPN could do. Here's what happened:

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When the Knicks lost to the Hornets on Friday, ESPN, for some crazy, this-guy-must-be-drunk reason, ran the headline on their mobile website: "Chink in the Armor."

Omg, really, ESPN?

Hopefully I won't need to go into semantics regarding how offensive the word "chink" is to Asians. I've been called the name before in a derogatory manner and hesitate to even write it out. It's a word meant to insult and, like the n-word and k-word, should never be said, let alone published on a hugely popular website. Even though the word "chink" does have another meaning and it could be argued it was just a pun, the fact that the headline was targeted about Lin, who's Taiwainese ... well, you can't help but figure Lin's race was part of the reason they ran that headline.

ESPN quickly fired the guy who wrote it and issued this statement:

Last night, ESPN.com’s mobile web site posted an offensive headline referencing Jeremy Lin at 2:30 am ET. The headline was removed at 3:05 am ET. We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake.

That wasn't it on ESPN's part. Max Bretos, an ESPN anchor, used the same phrase during an interview about Lin. He was suspended for 30 days.

Bretos apologized on Twitter, saying: "My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community." I don't know if it makes it any better or worse that Bretos has an Asian wife and still spoke that phrase. How dumb can you be? And of course ESPN issued yet another statement.

Even though I'm kind of sad for humanity that this happened, I do think the firing and suspension were enough of a punishment, and that we should all move on from this incident. But, come on, really, how difficult is it for the media, whose words will be broadcast to millions, to think of another phrase that carries the same meaning without using a derogatory word?

As a fellow Asian American, Jeremy Lin has been inspiring to our community, and even though he's lost his first couple of games, we'll always defend him for the barriers he's broken. Asians in general tend to be forgotten about or silenced in mainstream media, so it's been awesome watching an Asian athlete the entire world can rally behind. Let's hope all media outlets learn from ESPN's mistake, and they realize that pulling stunts like this will never be acceptable.

Do you think the ESPN employees should have been punished for using that phrase?


Image via Stephen_Curry/Wikimedia

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