Sports media is, for the most part, a very politically correct culture, and many sports fans are understandably turned off by this.
Count Curt Schilling as one of those people. He has railed against it nonstop since his retirement from baseball, especially on social media.
The only problem? Schilling isn’t a fan; he’s a media member. And as such, ESPN was justified in firing the former Arizona Diamondbacks star on Wednesday after he shared an anti-transgender meme on his Facebook page a day earlier.
Yes, hypocrisy in the national sports media does exist when it comes to politically-charged rants. One of the most recent examples came in October, when “Pardon the Interruption” host Tony Kornheiser (a regular golf partner of President Obama’s) compared Tea Party members to ISIS. Kornheiser was not publicly reprimanded for his remark.
But as a whole, the sports media culture is a highly sensitive one -- especially when it comes to gay, lesbian and transgender issues. And if you're on the wrong side of that issue in any way, rest assured: There will be consequences.
Schilling undoubtedly resents that. But whether he likes it or not, he has a responsibility to represent the company he works for, both on and off the air, and he failed to do so in an acceptable manner.
He learned that the hard way in August after tweeting a comparison between Muslims and Nazis. ESPN suspended Schilling for the comment, and at the time, Schilling seemed to learn from it.
@redcarbad needed to actually think a bit before acting on that one, or not acting. On me though
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) August 25, 2015
And then, Tuesday happened.
Yes, many people — perhaps even a majority of Americans — agree with Schilling’s sentiment on the transgender/restroom issue that has become a national discussion in recent weeks.
But that’s not the point. The point is Schilling knew his post would be controversial. He knew he’d get a great deal of people, including a multitude of media members, riled up and angry at him. And despite of -- or maybe because -- of this fact, he decided to post it anyway.
After his post, Schilling took to his own personal blog page and posted the following:
Let's make one thing clear right up front. If you get offended by ANYTHING in this post, that’s your fault, all yours.
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 but myself here, on facebook, on twitter, anywhere.
Two thoughts on this:
1. I agree that, in our present culture, many people tend to get offended far too easily. But the transgender issue is a hot-button one at the moment, and again, Schilling knew his post would be controversial. Once again, he certainly failed to "think a bit" before sharing it.
2. Anyone who works for a company, be it a large one like ESPN or a small, mom-and-pop shop, needs to understand: You represent your company’s brand on and off the clock. (If you’re not sure about this, check in with Britt McHenry.)
The bottom line: Freedom of speech is not synonymous with freedom from consequences — and if you don’t agree with your company’s culture, you have the freedom not to work there.
ESPN just granted Schilling that freedom — and to paraphrase the six-time All-Star: that's your fault, all yours, Curt.