Journalism professors at colleges and universities, including the University of Alabama, did not appreciate ESPN play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger’s observation during last Monday’s BCS championship game telecast that Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend, a former Miss Alabama, was beautiful.
Sue Carter, a professor of journalism at Michigan State, told the The New York Times it was “extraordinarily inappropriate to focus on an individual’s looks,” and that Musburger’s comments were a “major personal violation.” Carter made these comments even though Katherine Webb, whose beauty Musburger praised, has said she was flattered by the comments. Webb’s father, who one presumes would be the most upset had Musburger’s comments crossed a line, said the media was being unfair to Musburger and said Musburger deserves “a break.”
Musburger will return to the airwaves on Monday for ESPN’s “Big Monday” college basketball broadcast.
“In this instance, the appearance of the quarterback’s girlfriend had no bearing on the outcome of the game. It’s a major personal violation, and it’s so retrograde that it’s embarrassing,” Carter, the journalism professor, said. “I think there’s a generational issue, but it’s incumbent on people practicing in these eras to keep up and this is not a norm.”
Because of politically correct sentiment like this, ESPN issued an apology last Tuesday. Musburger, though, did not.
Carter said because “sports has been such a male-dominated domain, he obviously felt license and privilege and he’s been able to do that for years.”
She added: “But the masculine aspect of sports is changing.”
Other liberals quoted by the Times were outraged that Musburger would assert that “every man should, and that every boy should try to be a football hero to get such a gorgeous woman.”
Jennifer Greer, who chairs the journalism department at the University of Alabama, said she will be using Musburger’s remarks “as an example in our classes when we talk about journalists and sensitivity to issues” and feels the outrage over Musburger’s comments represented “progress” that society has made on gender issues.
“Football is a male domain,” Greer said. “And the role that women play even in the journalistic respect is in the supportive role, the mom, the hot girlfriend, the sideline reporter. They’re accepted in this world, but in particular roles. It reinforces this stereotype of the hot model girlfriend attached to a quarterback and the maleness of sports that is hard for serious female athletes.”