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Springtime For Lou Holtz ... ESPN, Double Standards And You

Illustration for article titled Springtime For Lou Holtz ... ESPN, Double Standards And You

Once upon a time, a site called The Black Table had a regular feature entitled Waxing Off, in which women gathered in an online roundtable to discuss issues of the day, and also to make fun of Will Leitch's shoes. And so we got to thinking: With so many great female sports bloggers out there, why not import the idea here? It's just crazy enough to work. So behold: The latest edition of Deadspin's Waxing Off. We found seven terrific female writers who were willing to pen short pieces on this week's topic: Lou Holtz and his Hitler comment. As you may have read, ESPN correspondent and noted lunatic Holtz put his foot in it recently with this fun quote: (The context of the conversation was about Rich Rodriguez's not-so-great start as the University of Michigan's head coach): "Ya know, Hitler was a great leader too." ESPN chose not to discipline Holtz in any way. But when ESPN columnist Jemele Hill put herself in a similar predicament, referencing Hitler in a column on the Celtics this past summer, all hell broke loose. ESPN suspended her, and she was forced to write an apology. So what do our ladies think of all of this? Let's take a look. By the way, if you'd like to be part of the Waxing Off writing staff, email myself at, or Mr. Daulerio at Head Chick In Charge: Of course it's a double standard. A Nazi is a Nazi is a Nazi Shark. If it is wrong to ever utter that "N-word", it is certainly more wrong to do so on national TV on the flagship rather than in one column out of hundreds on the dot com. A larger audience would be offended from exposure to such a vile reference on TV than from Page 2. Because Jemele actually wrote something vile and offensive? Yeah, right. ESPN punishes Jemele on the regular. Disney is the dom and Jemele is the submissive. She obviously likes it rough with no safe word. She voluntarily spends several days a month with Skip Bayless and she allowed ESPN to humiliate her by putting her byline on that ridiculous apology which really should have solely been contrition for writing a trite and mediocre column. Lou Holtz is an old man. He can't endure too strong a retaliation. A light rapping might finish him. But Jemele is a woman, young and sturdy. Put on earth for abuse. A Black woman at that. Especially made for abuse! Maybe there is more to it than just double standard. Maybe, in retrospect, ESPN knew the suspension was an overreaction. Maybe some sane and thoughtful management types took a deep breath and prospectively pulled an anti-Goodell. That is, prospectively calmed their hypersensitive asses down and reneged on insisting empty political correctness. Indeed, the politically correct are the real Nazis. Holtz may have merely been the first beneficiary of a new policy. Perhaps the WWL is being respectful of its elders and sympathetic to the slip of the tongue of a senior citizen who has the inherently risky task of correctly using his nice words on live TV. Jemele was apparently supposed to exercise her opportunity to ponder and edit her words. Go figure. Or maybe the higher ups at the WWL have been underwhelmed by Jemele's performance at The Leader so far and are simply laying the ground work to let her go (or pay her less money) upon expiration of her contract. Maybe ESPN will remedy this whole debacle for Jemele somehow. Maybe one morning, instead of another exasperating battle with Bayless, they can treat her to delicious breakfast pastries while she enjoys a massage from The Two Live Stews in her dressing room. Or maybe Jemele will have to find the resolution in this mess for herself. No matter what, Hill must take more responsibility for herself, her writing and her image. Her overwrought apology for making the stupid Nazi reference was troubling. If that woman had any sense she would have bragged in her column about all her Jewish friends (really just one), "clarified" herself and kept it moving. That's the average approach and would have been better than what she put forth. Because, instead, she groveled. And followed that up with a passive aggressive refusal to acknowledge the double standard concerning Lou Holtz. I hope she knows there's no reward in heaven for her. Dignity and self-respect is for the living. Not directly addressing the inequality at her workplace is not going to protect her career. It is entirely possible to be direct, eloquent and appropriate when addressing such matters. As far as punitive measures go, if Hill has allowed ESPN to deplete her of even a modicum of her self-esteem, then that's the harshest punishment she could have suffered. And she did it to herself. No Nazis to blame for that. — Back in the day, The Head Chick in Charge used to write about race all the time at her blog Leave The Man Alone. All the time! ————- Andrea Reiher: Notre Dame was having trouble, what a sad, sad story Needed a new leader to restore its former glory Where, oh, where was he? Where could that man be? We looked around and then we found the man for you and me And now it's … springtime for Lou Holtz and ND! South Bend is happy and gay! We're marching to a volley cheer on high! We shake down the thunder from the sky! Springtime for Lou Holtz and ND! South Bend's a fine land once more! Springtime for Lou Holtz and ND! Watch out, BCS, we're going on tour! Springtime for Lou Holtz and ND … Come on, Domers! Go into your dance! I was born in Gold & Blue und that is why they call me Lou! Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the ND party! Heil Holtz! Heil Holtz! Heil Holtz! Springtime for Lou Holtz and ND! Heil myself! Heil to me! I'm the old man who's out to change our history! Heil myself! Raise your hand! There's no greater magician in all the land! Everything I do, I do for you! If you're looking to fellate, here's a non-BCS school that can't wait! Heil myself! Raise your beer! Every hotsy-totsy Domer stand and cheer! Hooray! Lou Holtz is causing a furor! He's got ESPN on the run, you gotta love that wacky hun! Lou Holtz is causing a furor. They can't say "no" to his demands, they're freaking out in foreign lands. He's got the whole world in his hands. Lou Holtz is causing a furor! I was just a lispy man, no one more senile. Got a phone call from the Bristol, told me I was vital. Notre Dame was blue, what, oh, what to do? Hitched up my Depends and made amends, now ND's smiling through! Springtime for Lou Holtz and ND Irish Guard's the new step today! Springtime! Irish Guard! BCS bids falling from the skies again. ND is on the rise again! Springtime for Lou Holtz and ND! Leprechauns are dancing once more! Springtime for Lou Holtz and ND! Means that soon we'll be going … We've got to be going … You know we'll be going … You bet we'll be going … You know we'll be going to a booooowl! — Andrea is a contributor at Ladies ... and Bugs & Cranks and has recently started writing TV recaps for Zap 2 It. You can find some of her other columns here. She also is now proudly flying her Cardinal flag next door to Wrigley Field. It helps keep the Cubs Cooties away. ————- Nikki: One of the most prominent differences between live on-air banter and a written column is the oh-shit factor. The oh-shit factor is significantly larger in on-air chatter than it is in column-writing. The former involves talking on the fly with no kind of erase button — at best, you’ve got a 5- or 7-second delay (if you’re lucky, and then you’ve gotta hope somebody actually catches and gets rid of your oh-shit moment). The latter involves the backspace/delete button that you can hit whenever you damn well please, plus presumably more time — time to think over what you’ve written, or to run an idea or phrase past someone else, before you submit your piece. As a girl who currently works in publishing but came from the world of radio, I know plenty about the varying levels of oh-shit-ness in these types of jobs. Anybody in broadcasting’s had his or her share of oh-shit moments. My moment to shine in all my oh-shit glory came one morning when I was reading a Very Serious News Story live on the air at a country radio station. This Very Serious News Story was about fetuses. In the middle of me giving my news report, a cat flew in the studio window. Seriously. A cat. Flew through. The freakin’ window. While I was on-air. (Turns out the general manager’s cat, which lived at the radio station, had escaped outside. It decided the way to get back in would be to jump into the window screen from the outside, thus knocking the screen into the studio and sending itself hurtling through the air.) So I did what any normal person would do when she sees a cat flying through the air: I cracked the hell up. So did my morning show partner. I’d stopped, in the middle of a sentence about fetuses, to laugh my ass off. The listeners didn’t have a clue what was going on. I had to stop laughing and calm down enough to explain on-air that a cat randomly flew in the window, and then attempt to carry on with the Very Serious News Story like nothing outrageous had happened. The thing any professional broadcaster would have done would have been to ignore the flying, startled cat and keep talkin’ the fetus talk, but I was fresh out of college at that point, not exactly a seasoned broadcaster, and was totally prone to giggle fits. Oh-shit, indeed. When you’re live on-air and stuff is more or less unscripted, shit happens. You talk (or laugh) without thinking things through. You’re on the fly, you’re thinking on your feet … and sometimes you stick one of those feet squarely in your mouth, like Lou Holtz did when, on a recent edition of College Football Live, he compared Rich Rodriguez’s leadership skills to those of … Hitler. Yeah. Major oh-shit. And while Holtz shouldn’t have said what he said, ‘cause Hitler comparisons really tend to spark the ire of, like, everyone, I can at least empathize with him. I know what an oh-shit moment’s like, and it’s not a good feeling. In that moment right after the oh-shit comment has been sent off to cause mass chaos in the world, you get that awful feeling in your belly, that sickening drop in your stomach, and you know you screwed up big-time and you can’t take it back. That’s in no way an excuse for saying some sort of royally stupid comment — but it’s at least understandable how it happened. I have less sympathy for Jemele Hill, who wrote in one of her columns that rooting for the Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim. It’s pretty well-known that making Hitler references is just one of those Things You Don’t Do, much like snortin’ blow off a dead prostitute, gettin’ a little too friendly with your neighbor’s pet billy-goat, or admitting you’ve seen Clay Aiken in concert. Yet Hill did it anyway. She wrote those words and then submitted them for publication. She had every opportunity to reconsider those words, edit those words, ask for someone else’s feedback about those words, or omit those words from her column. Perhaps she did one or more of those things and still decided to submit her little Hitler simile; perhaps she didn’t. This wasn’t an instance of “oops, guess what just slipped out of my mouth?” She made a conscious decision to write those words, keep those words in her column, and then send that column off. Unlike a broadcaster, who (due to time constraints and the urgency to respond when he’s live on the air) sometimes can’t think his words (and their implications) through all the way before he says them, Hill thought about those words as she wrote them, and in the end, she must have thought they were OK enough to submit for publication. (Note: What baffles me is that Hill must have an editor, who really should have had the good sense to keep the Hitler comment out of the column. Her editor should get some of the blame for this incident, too. That being said, that doesn’t excuse Hill’s lack of good judgment in writing those words in the first place.) Is there a double standard here, where men get fewer punishments and reprimands than women do for making these oh-shit sorts of mistakes? Maybe. I’m not gonna say there isn’t. But in this instance, the woman had opportunities and tools at her fingertips to go back and fix this mistake before it ever got loose in the public, while the man in question was pretty much screwed the moment he opened his mouth. In this case, the crime of what Holtz and Hill said was similar, but the crime of being able to fix said mistake and not doing so was committed only by Hill. Yeah, she got the worse end of the punishment stick, but in my eyes, she’s the one who committed the more egregious of the crimes. — NIKKI is the snarky little so-and-so behind the humor website RED PEN, INC. A die-hard Phillies fan, she also talks baseball, cute pitchers, and pinstriped derrieres at THE BILF REPORT. ————- Ciara: When I first heard about the Hitler-Holtz-Hill double-standard fiasco, I started to think about the day that I decided that I wasn't going to pursue a Journalism degree in college. I had this dream of being a sportswriter since I was 12; to interview players and to eventually have a column in the Washington Post. But when I looked around and discovered that no one looked like me, I came to conclusion that maybe I wasn't meant to be a sportswriter. To this day, I regret that. I let the phrase: "How dare this Black woman come up in here and think she can do this?!", a phrase that Jemele felt from some the day she went up on, kill my hopes and dreams. I feel those sentiments every time someone discovers that I'm Black. It's the look of awe and astonishment. The phrases are like clockwork: "I wouldn't have known" "Seriously?!" "How the hell did you get involved in this?!" They can get past the 'girl' thing but it's the 'Black' thing that they can't seem to comprehend. I've been fortunate in my journey to have met people who can look past my race/gender, see some potential, and give me a chance. But for every one person that does, there are twenty people who don't. I have to fight that everyday: to prove to people that this is not a game to me. I'm aware of what I'm up against. I know I have to work twice as hard, be twice as accurate and be the ultimate scribe. I can't afford to make ill-timed references to Hitler. People expect me to fail. Hell, people don't even expect me to be here in the first place. But guess what, I belong here. I'm not a mutant, alien or weirdo. This is my love. I'm not going to let some invisible boundary keep me from achieving my goals. Not this time. Because I know there's another Ciara out there who thinks she can't do it. I'm writing to show her that she can. — Ciara has a love-hate relationship with the Eagles' DeSean Jackson. One day, she wants him to father her seed. The next, she wants to castrate him. What's a girl to do?! Despite that dilemma, she spends her time learning at the alleged ugliest campus in America while plotting to take over the world, Brain-style. Wish her luck! ————- Trouble: Both Lou Holtz and Jemele Hill made egregious and well-documented comparisons to Adolf Hitler within the scope of their profession. In both cases, they abused the meme of Hitler=Really Bad and violated Godwin’s Law. Only one was thrown under the bus. Hill is 33, Holtz 71. Lou Holtz remembers when Adolf Hitler was alive and subjugating undesirables across Europe, Jemele Hill probably read that chapter in World History and has seen movies about the Holocaust. Holtz’s comment reflected his knowledge of the effective and relatively successful campaigns of Adolf Hitler’s regime (albeit compared wholly inappropriately to Coach Rodriguez) indicating he probably knows better than to say something so stupid. Yet Hill, who likely has only a bar trivia knowledge of the horrors of Nazism, was the one suspended, castigated and disgraced. ESPN was disingenuous to discipline Hill after her column was (assumed) passed by copyeditors and web editors and interns who do the actual story posting before going live. Check the safety before jumping the gun, guys. Holtz is a lot like my dad: a 70-something man, who worked hard his whole life, survived failure and racked up successes. He feels he’s earned the right to say whatever the hell he feels like saying and talks right over whatever pitiful argument you have to offer. My dad is not a revered football coach, nor has he been quoted in sports publications saying the outrageous things he says everyday. Lou Holtz issued a public apology for his remarks and that’s that. ESPN, shame on you. — Trouble was given that nickname as a toddler. She is an automotive journalist for Forbesautos and one of those Philly fans. When not engaged in taunting local Broncos or misguided Cowboys fans in Denver, she writes about luxury cars, drives racecars, and teaches web editing classes. ————- Tara Crawford: Let me start by saying this: Hitler has no place in a sports discussion unless your intrepid journalism efforts have just turned up photos of him in a Yankees jersey or documents proving he only has one nut as a result of his steroid use while trying to make the German Olympic basketball team. Seriously – Hitler? That's sort of like claiming that the old "lipstick on a pig" cliché is a sexist attack against a ... oh. Never mind. Anyway, my point is it makes you look like a moron and you should leave Hitler out of your sports commentary. Moving on. I think the main difference between Holtz's comments and Hill's is context. Holtz uses an ill-conceived comparison to make a salient point: that leadership quality does not necessarily yield a desirable result. You can be a good leader and still get the shaft from those following you ('sup, Jerry Manuel?). You can be functionally retarded and still get lucky. It's a good point made badly. Hill, on the other hand, seems to be making the point that rooting for a particular sports team is the philosophical equivalent of sympathizing with genocide. That's a bad point made badly. Every team has jackass players and jackass fans – it's one of the (debatable) joys of sports. The implication that the type of people who root for Team X are the same type of people who would cheer on war crimes or nuclear winter is so logically vacant I can't even come up with a decent line of ridicule. So, let's sum up! Don't invoke Hitler to discuss sports. If you feel you must do this, please at least do your best to make a comparison that makes sense. And please wear a big scarlet "G" on your chest so we can all point and laugh at you like the Godwinning idiot that you are. — Tara Crawford is an aspiring writer currently working as a print production artist. She is a die-hard New York Mets fan still in mourning. When not rooting on her team she can be found whittling away her hours online and/or indulging mildly manic obsessions with Anderson Cooper, Tim Gunn, and "Lost;" or posting bits of news and commentary at: ————- Meghan: More trouble for an 81. No, it's not T.O. mouthing off or lifting weights in his driveway. It's not Randy Moss sitting out plays and not running routes. Eighty-one is the number of years Lou Holtz has been alive. And the trouble is his recent Hitler reference on live TV. This reference did not cause as much stir as the Hitler analogy made by Jemele Hill in a Page 2 column this summer. She was suspended and had to make a formal apology. Holtz made one of those half hearted apologies where he didn't really apologize. But the question here is why didn't Holtz face a harsher punishment? Where's the public outcry against Holtz? It's just not there. I think this is because the man is older than dirt. And lets be honest, old people can say whatever they want. It's the privilege they get for being feeble of mind and body. Or maybe because we assume they are senile. People say stuff like "He's from a different time" but they really mean "He's old and has no idea what's going on." Once someone hits 70 I start to question their mental soundness. By 80 I just assume they are totally out of it. I respect my elders, I just don't trust that after 80 years of living, dementia hasn't taken its toll, no matter how many crossword puzzles they do or how much ginkgo biloba they ingest. Jemele Hill caused such a controversy because we expect her to be aware of what she's writing. ESPN made an example of her and hoped they wouldn't have to deal with anymore unfortunate evil dictator references again for a while. It's a double standard. But it's not about treating white men different from black women, it's about treating old people different than young people. The robots who run ESPN must have done this same calculation. Otherwise they'd be accused of being insensitive to black women. And the ESPN robots are nothing if not sensitive to many viewpoints. They leave the insensitivity to Deadspin and the Nazi Shark. — Meghan hopes there is a cure for old age by the time she gets there. Until then she blogs at Girlsdon'tknowsports.


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