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It was hard to listen to. Not the initial comment, but the clearly forced apology. During the Oklahoma State-Gonzaga television broadcast Friday night, play-by-play announcer Andrew Catalon had to sheepishly say he was sorry multiple times. His crime? After Bulldogs’ center Przemek Karnowski was fouled late in the contest, Catalon said the Cowboys were playing “hack-a-Polack.”
The remark was a play on words, mixing the old “hack-a-Shaq” technique–fouling a player purposely in hopes that he will miss the free throws–and Karnowski’s ethnicity. The 7’1″ Karnowski hails from Torun, Poland. Karnowski said that Catalon apologized
to him after the game and former Duke basketball player Mike Gminski, who is of Polish descent, did not think it was too big of a deal.
“Polack” is considered a derogatory term by some, although some of Polish descent often use it themselves. So while Catalon’s choice of verbiage was probably not appropriate, it was hardly mean spirited. “Hack-a-Pole” would have been fine, but Catalon’s attempt at creativity got him in trouble with the PC police.
The question is…how much trouble? While the NFL is now in the business of cracking down on free speech, it’ll be interesting to see if the NCAA and/or TNT will follow suit. Will Catalon be officially reprimanded for his words or do his multiple on-air apologies count as his contrition?
Hopefully, cooler heads prevail and nothing more is done. Don’t bet on it. If media giants like Don Imus and Rush Limbaugh had to pay dearly for their comments of the past, an up-and-comer like Catalon is an easy whipping boy for the wacko word watchers.
One thing in Catalon’s favor is that Karnowski is not a minority or a woman. So, the Al Sharptons and Sandra Flukes of the world will not be around to add fuel to the fire.
It’d be nice to know who actually complained about these comments and who was offended. Dollars to paczkis the person wasn’t Polish, if even real.
“Hack-a-polack” was not the best choice for a play-by-play announcer. “Hack-a-kraut”, “hack-a-guinea”, or “hack-a-mick” would also not be advised. That said, Catalon just made a silly comment. He’s not Archie Bunker. Not by a long shot. Archie would’ve never apologized, coerced or not.
Follow Kevin Scholla on Twitter @KevinScholla
Photo Credit: Andrew Catalon Twitter