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Kimberley A. Martin's Power Take: ESPN rightfully under fire for 'Robert Lee' switch

We’ve reached peak insanity, people.

On Tuesday night, ESPN issued a statement disclosing its reasons for removing play-by-play announcer Robert Lee from calling the University of Virginia football team's home opener on ESPN3, the company's digital platform.

Charlottesville, Va., as we all know, was the site of a white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally organized to protest threats to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park.

The announcer Robert Lee, if you haven’t heard, is Asian.

It appears ESPN feared Lee would be the subject of ridicule and — GASP! — Twitter memes and jokes.

But in removing him, ESPN did exactly what it set out to avoid — it created an issue.

Rather than wait to see if viewers would a) notice or care about the similar names, b) be able to differentiate between Lee and, ya know, a Confederate general or c) even watch a Sept. 2 Virginia vs. William & Mary football game on ESPN3, the network allowed overthinking and oversensitivity to lead to overreaction.

Some may debate the decision. But here’s one thing that can’t be denied in all of this: The power of social media.


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