BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — In the wake of outreach by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and several community members, ESPN980 in Washington, DC, has suspended the hosts of the Sports Reporters show for ridiculing transgender college basketball player Gabrielle Ludwig, the advocacy organization says.
Included in the comments Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin made were derogatory references to Ludwig's appearance, calling her "she/he" and "it," with one of the hosts saying he thought "it" was the "politically correct term."
They also said transgender people should not be allowed to play sports. "Whatever you’ve got to do to scratch that inner itch or quell those inner demons, that’s fine. But don’t go playing sports, then. And don’t go playing sports saying, ‘But I’ve got the rights of everyone else.’”
Helen Carroll, of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, called the comments "horrific."
"Unfortunately, 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," Carroll says. "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."
"We strongly believe two of our employees crossed the line when discussing a transsexual person on their program last Thursday," spokespeople for the station say in a Dec 11 statement. "Such intolerance and
insensitivity will never be tolerated by this company. Due to the nature of this conversation, the pair have been temporarily removed from ESPN980's Sports Reporters program."
Here's the segment that triggered Czaban's and Pollin's suspension.
According to OutSports, Czaban and Pollin issued a 10-second apology, but, the website says, it's among "the least sincere non-apologies in history."
GLAAD says the suspension "sends a strong message that the station takes this matter very seriously," coming after what they call a "half-hearted apology."
Landing image: espn980.com