Former University of Texas Longhorns football player and band member Shawn Izadi issued an open letter to CBS radio host Jim Rome on Monday, calling on the sportscaster to take his apology seriously after he called members of college marching bands “dorks” in a tweet during the Rose Bowl last week.
Izadi shared his open letter with Sporting News:
Dear Mr. Rome,
If you attack one, you attack all. By making comments that offended people who participate in marching band, you chose to disrespect so many more. You took aim at musicians of all kinds across the world who have dedicated their lives to this wonderful form of expression and art. You denounced the work of music educators and teachers alike who work tirelessly in their effort to inspire, motivate and take students to a level that not even they thought was possible. You criticized parents across the world for encouraging their children to do something they love and enjoy. And most importantly, you fired away at the individual performers themselves by calling them dorks, uncool, and indirectly naming their work meaningless. You became nothing more than a common bully.
I participated in both football and band at the University of Texas and will agree that there are huge differences regarding the two. For one, it doesn’t feel like you got hit by an 18-wheeler after band practice and football doesn’t punish you for forgetting your instrument. But outside the obvious, the two are rather similar. In the end, both football and band comprise individuals who come together as a family to produce and work toward a common goal. The types of individuals that make each group may be significantly different, but just because one may seem less popular gives no one a right to call them dorks.
Rome quickly deleted his original tweet and apologized after he drew swift condemnation from those in the music community.
“Band nation – I hear you. I was out of line,” Rome wrote in a subsequent tweet. “I apologize. I do not condone bullying of any kind and that was not my intent.”
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) January 5, 2015
Izadi wrote that Rome needs to demonstrate his commitment to the second half of his apology:
For me, there are two parts to an apology. The first is acknowledging that a mistake was made and you regret it happening. But the more important half of an apology is learning from the mistake so it doesn’t happen again. Mr. Rome, I highly suggest you demonstrate the second half of your apology. Take some time out of your day to visit a high school, college or DCI (Drum Corps International) marching band just to learn what goes on behind the scenes and I promise you will gain a great amount of appreciation for what these individuals do.
Lest we forget that marching band, along with so many other groups, (cheerleaders, fans, etc.) create the pageantry that is college sports. I urge you, Mr. Rome, not to let this be a situation that you bury under the rug. Learn from it and use it to create a platform that motivates students to do what they love and pursue what gives them happiness. Bullying has no place in today’s society and I hope you use this experience to promote the acceptance of any and every activity, no matter what others think.
The backlash against Rome’s initial comment was so great that it sparked its own Twitter hashtag: #MarchOnRome.