UPDATE: ESPN confirmed via emailed statement that they did, indeed, take Robert Lee off the UVA game over the fact that his name was close to that of a Confederate general.
According to a report from college football blog Outkick the Coverage, ESPN pulled college football announcer Robert Lee from a game between William & Mary and the University of Virginia because they were concerned students and viewers might be offended by his name.
Lee, who is Asian-American, is likely not named after the Confederate general, Robert E. Lee, is one of ESPNU’s biggest names, and, for the record, did not fight in the American Civil War, because he wasn’t alive in 1861 (though he is nicknamed, “the General”).
The story sounds almost too ridiculous to be true. But Outkick the Coverage is no fake news blog, and blogger Clay Travis insists that “multiple Outkick fans inside ESPN” confirmed the change up. According to Outkick, announcer Dave Weekley will take over the UVA game, and Lee will now call a game at Youngstown State because Pennsylvanians are less likely to be confused and believe the actual General Lee, who died more than a century ago, has taken up a post-mortem career as a college football announcer.
ESPN did not immediately return The Daily Wire‘s request for comment.
According to ratings estimates, ESPN has lost more than 10 million viewers in the last year, a trend analytics firm Deep Root says began when the sports network started incorporating more political coverage into its programming. Conservative viewers, particularly those in swing states, fled the network in droves, turning instead to pay-per-view and online options.
This week, the nation has been deeply divided on the subject of Confederate symbols, particularly in the wake of a violent confrontation involving white supremacists, that, indeed, took place in Virginia, not far from either William & Mary or the University of Virginia. But if ESPN really reassigned a reporter over his name, they’ve gone beyond mere political correctness, and have nearly achieved self-parody.