Leadership

ESPN Drops Colin Cowherd After Players Association's Criticism

By / Jul 27, 2015 Colin Cowherd, who was let go from ESPN on Friday. (Wired Photostream/Flickr)

Colin Cowherd, a popular sports commentator, was fired from his role at ESPN after making comments critical of baseball players from the Dominican Republic. Cowherd, who will soon join Fox Sports, faced a strong rebuke from the executive director of the MLB Players Association.

ESPN’s early breakup with popular personality Colin Cowherd came with a bit of a push from a key player’s association.

Last week, Cowherd, who will join Fox Sports later this year, was let go early from his ESPN position in the wake of controversial comments he made about the simplicity of baseball and the number of pro players that hail from Dominican Republic. The comments, in full:

“It’s baseball. You don’t think a general manager can manage? Like it’s impossible? It’s too complex? I’ve never bought into that ‘baseball is too complex.’ A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic.”

The comments immediately drew rebukes from some of Major League Baseball’s most popular players, along with the MLB Players Association (MLBPA). Tony Clark, a former player who currently serves as the executive director of the players union, was among the loudest voices in denouncing Cowherd’s comments.

“As a veteran of fifteen MLB seasons, I can assure you that our sport is infinitely more complex than some in the media would have you believe,” Clark said, according to Yahoo Sports. “To suggest otherwise is ignorant, and to make an ignorant point by denigrating the intelligence of our Dominican members was not ‘clunky’—it was offensive.”

Clark added that the situation was particularly disappointing in the context of the association’s recent efforts to highlight the league’s diversity. The group has worked to ensure that players from Spanish-speaking countries, such as the Dominican Republic, have access to translators.

“Baseball’s partners and stakeholders should help such efforts, not undermine them,” Clark said.

A Support System

MLBPA’s stance was one shared by Jose Bautista, the Toronto Blue Jays star that hails from the Dominican Republic. He highlighted his efforts to build education pathways for Dominican athletes through his Bautista Family Education Fund.

“Unfortunately there are hardships that do exist for people of every background and in some circumstances, yes there are ‘educational hurdles,'” he said in a statement on Friday. “However there is a difference between that and ignorance or stupidity which I believe was implied.”

USA Today reported Friday that the players union could withhold its support of ESPN and Fox Sports if they don’t handle the situation the right way. ESPN responded by firing Cowherd and denouncing his comments, but Fox Sports has yet to publicly comment on the situation.

Cowherd has attempted to apologize for his comments multiple times in the past few days.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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