Last week, we brought you the story of Charlene Sumlin, wife of Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, who brought to light a racist letter that was delivered to her family’s home after Texas A&M’s collapse at the hands of UCLA. That letter, used racial slurs and threats against Kevin Sumlin, who is black, telling him that he should quit, “or else.”
While many expressed sympathy fro the Sumlin’s, after the letter was made public, however, according to ESPN’s Paul Finebaum, that sympathy wasn’t felt by all. In a conversation with ESPN’s Bob Ley, Finebaum revealed that the Sumlin’s have received “blowback,” for going public with the letter:
— Bob Ley (@BobLeyESPN) September 11, 2017
Finebaum said, “It was a really good moment for Kevin Sumlin, who unfortunately hasn’t had many lately. He called this person, whoever it is, this subterranean creature that none of us would want to be associated with, and he made an example out of it. It’s separate from the issues we’ve talked about in the past, with the regent and the UCLA game, but it gives everyone pause. There is a little bit of blowback in College Station, ‘Why did he do it?’ ‘Why did she do it? It made the school look bad.’ But who really cares?”
Bob Ley shot back, surprised, “Really?! There’s pushback for publicizing a letter of that nature, sent to a man at his home in 2017, and people are, pardon my French, pissed off about that?”
Finebaum responded, “Yes, yes there is. Bob, I agree. I pointed that out because I think it’s worth knowing. And I’m not trying to cast a broad brush; it’s, you know, some people, and they’ve expressed themselves. Not anyone important, not anyone that we should probably be paying attention to, but fans on social media, which unfortunately, people pay a great deal of attention to. But by what he said Saturday, I think he ended that conversation, because I think he stood up for not only his family but he stood up for what’s right, and I’m really glad he did it.”
It’s fair to ask, of Finebaum, if the people questioning Charlene Sumlin’s motives for going public with the letter are, “not anyone important,” and “not anyone we should be paying attention to.” Then why is Finebaum making them important by paying attention to them? Certainly, someone whose been savaged on Twitter the way Finebaum has, knows the difference between an internet troll not worth paying attention to. As opposed to, for example, an influential member of the media, who actually shapes opinion.
In a sense, Finebaum is actually proving the internet trolls right. The letter sent to the Sumlin’s, though it’s not representative of College Station in any way, still makes Texas A&M look awful. By seizing on the story and then amplifying the supposedly unimportant internet trolls, Finebaum uses the story to make A&M look like an awful racist place. Which, is probably exactly what the internet trolls felt the Sumlin’s were trying to do with this letter.
Finebaum also doesn’t take into account what A&M has been through recently, The school had to cancel a planned white nationalist rally in August. So clearly, the school and the fan base is sensitive to the charge of racism. Which might go a long way toward explaining why some, feel anger at the Sumlin’s for going public with a letter that only furthered that notion.
Whoever sent that letter to the Sumlin’s, is awful. Though, amplifying internet trolls to try and pump life into a story that makes a great university look bad, doesn’t help either.