ESPN’s coddling of Curt Schilling ends badly

Parker Molloy wrote a much better recap of the events surrounding Curt Schilling’s dismissal from ESPN than I ever could, so if you want the long version, I strongly suggest you read the whole thing here. She breaks it down in great detail, but I’ll sum up here for those of you who didn’t follow my advice. Curt Schilling, who’s been warned multiple times for posting inflammatory and offensive things on Twitter was let go for failing to heed those warnings and retweeting a genuinely stupid meme*.

ESPN’s reason for firing Schilling is both transparent and obvious. In Molloy’s words:

“As for ESPN, someone in Bristol must have calculated that the benefits of Schilling’s baseball knowledge no longer exceeded the financial and public relations costs that would be incurred by keeping him on the air. There are clearly many other announcers just as (if not more) capable than he is, so it will be little skin off ESPN’s back.”

ESPN is a business. I’m sure they’ll stick up for all manner of asshole so long as said asshole doesn’t cost them money. Principles are great and all, but this was a business decision and as such it’s not hard to understand.

It’s too bad, because he was a great pitcher and a very solid addition to the ESPN team. This wasn’t an on-air performance issue; Schilling had been warned not to keep making an ass of himself on Twitter. He ignored the warnings, so they did the obvious thing and booted him.

The frustrating thing is that Schilling doesn’t seem to get it. He’s playing the victim because that’s his default pose. He started his post concerning his firing with this little gem:

“Let’s make one thing clear right up front. If you get offended by ANYTHING in this post, that’s your fault, all yours.”

Right. That’s code for “I’m about to be a total dick and I’m going to try to preemptively prevent you from holding me responsible for it.” We’re off to a really bad starts. He doubles down in the very next sentence:

“And for you people too dense to understand this one very important thing. My opinion, 100% mine, and only mine. I don’t represent anyone here, on facebook, on twitter, anywhere.”

This is a man who has no business working in any field where he faces the public. If he cannot understand that, as a public face of ESPN, he has to manage his public persona better than he has, then he’s going to struggle. It’s going to feel to him like the world is against him because he can’t understand the requirements of his job.

Of course, there are people, perpetual victims all, who are determined to twist this event to fit their narrative. They want this to be about political correctness bringing down a man whose only crime was to be too honest. They want this to be about trying to squelch free speech, or social justice warriors run amok, or some other bullshit.

It’s worth noting, too, that ESPN suspended Keith Law from Twitter for defending the theory of evolution. He was doing so in response to one of Schilling’s characteristically bizarre tweets. They suspend their employees for making statements that they feel might damage their business. Pushing the narrative that ESPN has succumbed to political correctness is dishonest.

Curt Schilling, as an on-air ESPN employee, couldn’t understand that his public statements reflected on his employer. ESPN gave him plenty of chances, probably too many, and he couldn’t change his behavior. This was a business decision, this was justified, and Curt Schilling brought this on himself. Trying to make this a fairy tale of political correctness is either dumb or dishonest.

Probably both.

EDIT: Of course Ted Cruz would come out on Schilling’s side. He even cited “unchecked political correctness” because that phrase plays well with his handful of supporters and honesty has never been a Cruz hallmark. Glenn Beck, demonstrating his keen grasp of his own imagination, said that, if bathroom bills “save one little girl from being molested by a heterosexual pervert, we should do it.”

I’m not sure which of these three is most soiled by association with the other two.

 

* No, I’m not going to link directly to it. It’s in Molloy’s piece. Go read it.

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