Published on The Daily Femme – Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011
Contributed by Annamarya
Honestly–and this may be a bit crass of me–but I couldn’t help but laugh when I learned that ESPN football announcer Ron Franklin was disciplined (re: kept off air) this weekend after allegedly calling ESPN sideline reporter, Jeannine Edwards, “sweet baby” and then “a**hole” (it was originally reported that he called her “sweet cakes” but Edwards clarified to USA Today’s Game On!section that, in fact, he said “sweet baby.”) I didn’t find it funny becausesexism is funny—it’s not—but, rather, because it’s eerily similar to the sexism outlined and mocked in 2004’s Anchorman (one of my favorite satire movies) and that is set in 1972. You would think that (or any) type of condescending, arrogant sexism portrayed in Anchorman would be long dead by now but, as the 68-year-old Franklin proves, it’s not and that begs to question: Did we learn anything in the last six decades? After all, sexism and sexual harassment are unfortunately live and well in the workplace (Brett Favre, anyone?).
Here’s what happened: According to USA Today, the incident occurred on Friday during a production meeting, attended also by ESPN announcers Rod Gilmore and Ed Cunningham, before Friday’s Chick Fil-A-Bowl. Edwards and Gilmore were discussing his wife’s election as mayor of Alameda, California when, she said, Franklin joined the conversation and said–and I quote–”‘Listen to me sweet baby, let me telling you something…’ in a condescending tone.” And after Edwards told Franklin not to address her like that, he replied, said Edwards, “OK, then listen to me asshole.” Undoubtedly, Edwards found the sportscaster’s “attitude” rude, and openly questioned his inappropriate behavior, but it seems that she received no response because the meeting proceeded after Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher arrived. The incident was then reported to ESPN management by a colleague (not Edwards). Management tried to pull Franklin from the Chick-Fil-A coverage but didn’t have enough time (the two worked the game) so, instead, to discipline him, they pulled Franklin from the Fiesta Bowl radio coverage. According to The New York Times,Franklin apologized by saying: “I said some things I shouldn’t have and am sorry. I deserved to be taken off the Fiesta Bowl.”
Is it me or does the punishment not fit the crime? Franklin showed a blatant disrespect for Edwards and demeaned her. Yet, all he suffered was to be pulled off a broadcast. He’s still getting paid and Edwards still has to work with him. And, while he apologized (an apology I find completely dismissive, as if it’s something he just had to say), it doesn’t make up for any emotional pain Edwards suffered, nor will it make her relationship with Franklin–or her environment at ESPN–any easier or less tense. Just imagine how many other men that are as rude and archaic as Franklin exist within the folds of ESPN. I’d imagine they may just make Edwards’ life difficult for protesting such disgusting sexism–sexism they probably find appropriate because it was the norm for their generation–and, instead, blame her for Franklin’s inappropriate behavior. ESPN needs to do more to ensure something like this will never happen again within their walls, like suspending Franklin without pay and putting him through extensive sensitivity and sexual harassment training. Use Franklin as an example to show that this type of behavior is never ever acceptable in the workplace.