Sports talk radio is about one thing and one thing only: delivering sports news in an entertaining yet informative way. Most days this goes off without a hitch across the country. Some days though, it just doesn't pay to touch upon certain subjects, sports related or not.
Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban of ESPN 980 sports talk station in Washington D.C. learned this lesson the hard way Tuesday after both were suspended for comments made last week while discussing a USA Today story about a transgender basketball player.
On Thursday of last week, Pollin Czaban, as well as a guest on the show at the time, went into a veritable rant of insensitivity when discussing this story. Here are some of the high 'low' lights of their discussion:
– They said transgender people should not be allowed to play sports.
”Whatever you’ve got to do to scratch that inner itch and quell those inner demons, that’s fine. But don’t go playing sports then. And don’t go playing sports saying, ‘but I’ve go the rights of everyone else.’”
– They make fun of Ludwig’s appearance, including her biceps and tattoos. Clearly reacting to photographs, they expressed deep-seated disgust at her appearance.
“That could be a Russian chick,” they said as they cackled.
– They referred to her as “he/she” and as “it.” “I think ‘it’ is the politically correct term.”
As expected, this anti-transgender tirade didn't go unnoticed and the backlash against these two talk hosts exploded to such a degree that suspensions were all but an inevitability. Helen Carroll, a member of the National Center for Lesbian Rights who has worked tirelessly for transgender rights in sports, was irate over hearing this and responded to the thoughtless comments.
“The horrific comments by ESPN’s Radio’s Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin show a level of disrespect and harmful rhetoric that is inexcusable” Carroll said. “They called Gabrielle Ludwig, transgender California Community College student-athlete, “it”. This and their entire transphobic rant shows a level of ignorance and just plain ‘meanness’ that I try to stay away from.”
“Unfortunately” she continued, “the many transgender sports participants I have had the privilege to work with, are not shielded from hateful people such as Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin. I would think that a sports network that espouses respect for LGBT people will see the harm that is occurring with this rant, be forthcoming with an apology and take immediate action against these two so-called sports radio professionals.”
The suspensions of Pollin and Czban was announced Tuesday in a statement by the station. In the statement, the station said that the announcers "crossed the line" and "such intolerance and insensitivity will never be tolerated by this station," adding they will be "temporarily removed" from on-air.
The station has not specified how long these suspensions will last.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.