ESPN Condemns LaVar Ball's Comment To Host Molly Qerim
ESPN called a comment LaVar Ball made yesterday during an appearance on "First Take" to host Molly Qerim "completely inappropriate" and has "made him aware" of the company's stance, according to Liz Roscher of YAHOO SPORTS. A rep for Ball replied by saying that the comment was not "meant to be sexual in nature." As Ball was talking to Stephen A. Smith about Lonzo Ball's move from the Lakers to the Pelicans as part of the Anthony Davis trade, Qerim "interjected to try and get the segment to look more like an interview." She asked, “LaVar, can I switch gears with you because I have a question here?" Ball responded, "You can switch gears with me anytime.” Roscher wrote Ball's comment was "so unnecessarily gross that you almost need a shower after hearing it." Qerim "recovered masterfully, telling Ball to 'stay focused.'” Roscher: "Ball can say what he wants about how he intended that comment, but his tone and demeanor when he said that to Qerim are in conflict with his explanation" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/17). In Philadelphia, Rob Tornoe noted Qerim at the end of the show "joked about calling ESPN's human resources department." Qerim: "If anyone's calling HR today, it's me" (INQUIRER.com, 6/17).
POOR FORM: USA TODAY's Andrew Joseph wrote Qerim "handled it well," but she "shouldn't have to deal with those remarks on live TV." It "wasn't a good look" from Ball, who had "previously made sexist on-air comments to FS1's Kristine Leahy." Smith "looked especially disappointed by the comment, reacting with a scornful look and a 'good lord'" (USATODAY.com, 6/17). The Atlantic's Jemele Hill wrote, "Kudos to Molly Querim for the professional way she handled LaVar Ball after his inappropriate comment. Maybe ESPN will have finally learned its lesson about putting him on TV." Journalist Carron Phillips: "Some in the media need to stop giving LaVar Ball a platform by putting a mic in front of him. It has to stop." Illinois-based WICS-ABC's Karli Bell: "LaVar needs to just go away. For Gods sake. Why do we keep giving him a platform?" (TWITTER.com, 6/17).
STRONG TALK: ESPN's Dan Le Batard said it is time ESPN "can stop cheapening ourselves as a company by putting someone's dad on television." He said of Ball, "If he were any kind of relevant in any kind of way, maybe he’d be worth hearing from. But now he's just the sidecar in a clown show who's insulting people in a way that's offensive.” Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote said it is an “embarrassment to ESPN" for putting Ball on. Cote: "Just quit giving a microphone to this guy.” Le Batard said he has "believed in the idea of more clowns in the circus," but not when you "combine that he's not relevant in any way with the fact that you're putting him on gratuitously to see if he'll say something stupid so that you can run with it.” Le Batard said he has found Ball “largely funny,” but he does not have the “relevance to insult our employees on television and insult women in America in a way that we should be dignifying anymore on television.” Le Batard: “At least I could justify it as a cheapening of ratings grab, but he's got no relevance, zero” (“The Dan Le Batard Show,” ESPN Radio, 6/18).