ESPN pulls Virginia game announcer named Robert Lee

Because Robert Lee is too similar to Robert E. Lee.

Really? We live in ridiculous times.

ESPN decided to move an Asian American announcer, Robert Lee, off the University of Virginia's upcoming home opener football game against William and Mary, "simply because of the coincidence of his name."

Because Robert Lee is too similar to Robert E. Lee.

Earlier this month, violence erupted at a white nationalist rally that gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of the Confederate general. The night before a counter-protestor was killed, white nationalists marched across the UVA campus, carrying torches and chanting racist slogans. So yeah, you could say it was a minor coincidence that a guy named Robert Lee was going to call the play by play.

That minor coincidence was enough for ESPN to reassign Lee to announce the Youngstown versus Pitt game being played on the same day. It was supposed to be a minor change -- reassignments happen all the time, and neither game is even scheduled to be televised. But then word of the network's switch leaked on Tuesday.

Robert Lee is the guy on the right.

The website Outkick the Coverage broke the story, accusing "MSESPN" -- a popular mocking conservative nickname for the network -- of making the change to "avoid offending left wing idiots." As usual, the internet lit up with a thousand and one opinions on the matter, from many sides, as they say.

I know a lot of people are taking ESPN to task for pulling Lee off the game, and I have to agree, it's absolutely ridiculous that anyone thought this was the right idea. But then again, we live in utterly ridiculous times.

However, ESPN didn't necessarily pull Lee from the UVA game to avoid "offending left wing idiots." The way the network sees it, they were trying to prevent the very real possibility of Lee and his coincidental name from being subject to an onslaught of memes and jokes and punchlines. Let's be real: it was going to happen, and I admire the decision to at least try to spare Lee some headaches.

ESPN was compelled to issue a statement explaining Lee's reassignment.

"We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name," the network said. "In that moment it felt right to all parties. It's a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play-by-play for a football game has become an issue."

The network quietly made the move to protect Lee and avoid embarrassment, but ended becoming a bigger punchline when the switch was leaked. People are awful, the internet is gonna meme, and there were probably going to be shitty jokes flung either way. This development just pokes the hornet's nest with a sharper stick.

That said, Robert Lee is an Asian American man living and working in the United States of America. With a job in sports broadcasting. I can confidently say that the guy has already heard his share of shitty jokes.

More here: ESPN Pulls Announcer Robert Lee From Virginia Game Because of His Name

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