Sports Broadcaster Suspended After Comparing Black Player To ‘King Kong’

On Tuesday, Iowa radio sports broadcaster Gary Dolphin made what some are calling an inappropriate remark following a basketball game between the Maryland Terrapins and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Commenting on Terrapins player Bruno Fernando, Dolphin said: "That’s some pretty good long-range shooting, and then Fernando was King Kong at the end of the game."

Fernando, as Hawk Central notes, is an astonishing 6'10" and 275 lbs. Fictional gorilla Kong first appeared in the 1933 Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack-directed film "King Kong."

For this remark, Dolphin was suspended for the rest of the season. However, according to Hawkeye Nation, the press release from Hawkeye Sports Properties indicates that the suspension might be "indefinite."

This most recent suspension comes on the heels of a prior two-game suspension which was the result of Dolphin disparaging player Maishe Dailey over a hot mic.

Dolphin has released the following statement, apologizing for what he said and promising to do better:

During the broadcast, I used a comparison when trying to describe a talented Maryland basketball player. In no way did I intend to offend or disparage the player. I take full responsibility for my inappropriate word choice and offer a sincere apology to him and anyone else who was offended. I wish the Iowa Hawkeye players, coaches and fans all the very best as they head into the final stretch of the season. I will use this as an opportunity to grow as a person and learn more about unconscious bias.

Despite Dolphin’s indelicate choice of words, much of social media appears to be sympathetic to the broadcaster.

CBS Sports’ Chris Hansel tweeted:

Spoke with Gary Dolphin for about 30 minutes today. He’s heartbroken and he’s sorry. I just hope he’s back on the mic for the 2019 football opener.

Hawkeye Nation sports writer Jon Miller came to Dolphin’s defense in a Saturday column, writing in part:

In no way was Gary Dolphin comparing a black man to an ape, as some have said he was. He was describing the outstanding play of Maryland’s Bruno Fernando, who was a man among boys, and whose strength was key in getting the putback offensive rebound to win the game. ...

The best I can tell is that Learfield received one email relative to Dolph’s King Kong analogy, which he has used before, which a lot of people use to describe dominant play in athletics, and which Dolph alternates with other character analogies like "The Hulk" and "Godzilla" which he often uses.

On the other end, sports writer Mike Hlas penned a piece for The Gazette in which he wrote:

People who know Dolphin far better than myself would gladly and confidently swear under oath that he didn’t mean those two words anything other than praise for a player who was dominant when it mattered most against the Hawkeyes. As someone who has spent a lot of minutes on the radio and in podcasts, I know all too well how instantly choosing the words you mean to say is anything but foolproof.

But I also know I’m white, and don’t know how I’d feel about countless different words, phrases, and life itself were I not. I also know what you see when you Google a photo of King Kong. As someone who has done far more offending than taking offense, I still don’t want anyone else telling me why I shouldn’t be offended by something I find offensive.


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