Asian sports announcer Robert Lee — not to be confused with Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who died in 1870 — will no longer call the University of Virginia’s first college football game of the season, ESPN has announced.
The decision to remove Lee from the broadcast comes after white nationalist rallies were held on the UVa campus earlier this month protesting the city’s plan to remove a statue of the controversial historical figure of the same name. Those protests eventually turned violent, culminating in a domestic terrorist attack during which a man rammed his car into a group of demonstrators, killing anti-white nationalist protester Heather Heyer.
ESPN put out the following statement, explaining the decision:
We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play-by-play for a football game has become an issue.
Additionally, an ESPN spokesperson told SI.com that Lee’s reassignment was not mandated, and that the young ESPN3 announcer ultimately felt more comfortable not covering the UVa game.
Per the website Outkick the Coverage, fellow announcer Dave Weekley will now call the Sept. 2 game against William and Mary, while Lee (pictured above) has been reassigned to the Youngstown State at Pittsburgh game.
Do you agree with the decision to remove Lee from the UVa game, or does this seem like an overreaction?