January 8, 2013

Much chatter has greeted the asinine, slobbering comments of Brent Musburger last night during the national title game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. An ESPN camera settled on a woman in the stands—Katherine Webb, Miss Alabama and girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. Musburger was impressed, really impressed, saying, “I’ll tell you, quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women. What a beautiful woman, wow!” More verbal drooling followed.

The blowback from the many, many people who found the sounds of a 73-year-old announcer fixating on the looks of a young woman nauseating produced a statement from ESPN today:

“We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that.”

Webb herself claims to be flattered, a bit of testimony that is irrelevant to the case. She, after all, doesn’t have to correct all the twisted impressions that Musburger has cast, including:
*That the goal is to net a hot babe;
*That the way to that goal is superb quarterbacking; and, by implication,
*If superb quarterbacking is achieved, so will the hot babe, leading to an athletic sense of entitlement.

One commentator opined, “Musburger felt comfortable insinuating those things on a national broadcast in the year 2013. This, above all else, is why someone needs to be held accountable.”

That would be ESPN. A close examination of the audio reveals one thing: As Musburger talks up the beauty of this woman and how quarterbacking yields hot dates, he has a buddy in the booth yukking it up with him. Two guys hanging out!

There’s some irony here: ESPN isn’t a laggard in terms of putting women in the booth for college football announcing. Pam Ward did the college gridiron for the network for years before taking up new beats last year. Beth Mowins does play-by-play work for ESPN on college Saturdays. Which is more gender diversity in the booth than most other sports networks that spring to mind. And not nearly enough, as well.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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