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9 Ridiculous ESPN Gaffes

by: Lee Keeler On  Friday, August 9, 2013


Wandai Wrection

When it comes to moving as fast as ESPN does, with as many networks as they do, there is bound to be the odd trip-up when it comes to the facts. But time and again, the network with seven cable channels, worldwide recognition and an intense internet fan base has managed to drop the ball on a number of significant details in their round-the-clock coverage of all things athletic. The only thing crazier than committing a great deal of errors would have to be admitting it: ESPN even has a site for correcting their errors, as if acknowledging these lapses makes their journalistic poo-pooing okay. Take what you will from it, sports fans, but here are nine memorable ESPN Gaffes for your distinction.

9. “Too Many Aarons”

Aaron Hernandez

Sometimes being the first to break a story isn’t always the smartest move; the axiom of “haste makes waste” definitely comes into play here. When New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez was charged with 1st-degree murder and being filmed doing so, ESPN correspondent Jeremy Schaap got his wires crossed and accidentally referred to the aforementioned Aaron as “Aaron Rodgers.” In mere minutes, the Green Bay quarterback took to Twitter to retaliate in response to Schaap’s gaffe with a terse, but effective “Not funny, ESPN”. We can only wonder and hope that Rodger’s grandmother wasn’t the one who tipped him off that he was suspected of ending a human life. Geesh. Schaap, who has already taken flack for previous mistakes, did not come through this slight mistake with a great deal of harumphs.

8. “Wandai Wrection”

Wandai Wrection

Between the deliberately-skewered pilot names of the Asiana crash as broadcast by KTVU and the horribly-offensive Day Above Ground video for “Asian Girl”, this has been a banner summer for Asian stereotypes. Not to be left out, the geniuses over at ESPN made sure to not only get involved, but at the cost of a child, no less. When international little-leaguer Nagiru Hiramatsu came to bat this last month, the name of the young man’s favorite band was listed as “Wandai Wrection”, a play on the name of the UK boy-band One Direction. ESPN officials have tried to remedy the outrage over what is clearly a prank below the management level by stating that it’s possible that Hiramatsu-san possibly filled-in the altered name on his information form when he arrived for the event. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

7. “The Mets Carlton Goof”

Steve Carlton

Sportscenter is the flagship show for the mammoth athletics-centric network, with a wealth of coverage getting churned out, which means occasionally boo-booing something as huge as no-hitter. Mere hours after Johan Santana’s recent no-hitter for the New York Mets, the media giants announced that “only four Mets had taken no-hitters into the ninth; three times by Steve Carlton.” Carlton, of course, is a vet of the Phillies and performed his righteous no-no’s while playing for the club that has been a longtime rival of The Mets. Fans of the latter franchise, who can be described as devout – if not downright loony – took to message boards to make sure that ESPN was well aware of the bad juju bestowed upon their boy Santana.

6. “Shot Heard Round the...Other World”

Shot Heard Round the World

In terms of history, ESPN interns have been previously busted for using Wikipedia to do their fact-checking. While the internet, particularly with sports statistics, can be a decent source for grabbing some of the quick basics, to err on common history, especially with the most beloved pastime in America, is going to ruffle some feathers. Such was the case when ESPN recently reported that the 1951 “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” was merely a “walk-off” home run to win the NCLS pennant. Brooklyn Dodgers and San Franciso Giants historians and fans alike threw small fits over the network undermining what is a pivotal point in the history of both teams. As they say, memory is located right next to creativity in the brain, so ESPN history has a crazy way of getting changed.

5. “Blanda, Plunkett, A-Derp”

George Blanda

When it comes to infuriating fans, fewer things are more touchy than botching a memorial tribute. But when it comes to the grand schema of ESPN flops, no story is too good to pull a boner on, particularly when it comes to dealing with the mortal coil. Upon the death of Raider George Blanda, the network ran NFL archival footage that featured player number 27 in action. The only catch is that the video they ran spotlighted another Raider completely, none other than Jim Plunkett. To add insult injury, a little bit of research – y’know, the kind that ESPN is not really capable of – reveals that Plunkett and Blanda didn’t even play for the Raiders during the same era. Derp!

4. “Broussard Calls Out the Sinners”


When NBA center Jason Collins came out of the closet, ESPN made sure to milk the event for everything that they could get. Unfortunately, this involved poor coverage in the form of Chris Broussard of their show “Outside the Lines”; Broussard, unable to separate his abilities as both a Christian and a commentator, went on record and called homosexuality a sin. The ensuing uproar was dealt with quickly by ESPN President John Skipper, who issued the statement that “There is a collective responsibility there”. Although Broussard was simply tossing off a core belief, the comment opened up a deeper, more philosophical debate about the rights of athletes in sports coverage that will possibly alter the handling of personal politics.

3. “Brother, Brother”


ESPN’s roundtable show First Take has been notorious for fishing for debate and scrutiny from fans and experts alike. With blowhards like Skip Bayless on board, the show has attempted to capture ratings by bouncing around sensationalized topics and gossip that calls into question the journalistic integrity of the show. This question became a blatant misstep when guest host Rob Parker questioned the “blackness” of Robert Griffin, III. Parker made statements that referred to RGIII’s “white fiancee”, further commenting that the African-American athlete was a Republican and questioned whether or not he was a “brother” or a “cornball brother.” While some of these jabs can be seen as playful, ESPN bears the dutiful task of having their sportscasters exist on what their Skipper calls “collective responsibility”.

2. “A Salty Surprise”

M. Obama

From the tiniest sham to the a royal ham, ESPN has managed to screw up at levels that are downright, well, Presidential. When a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama unexpectedly appeared onscreen, desk commentator and former Raiders/Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden mistakenly assumed that he was speaking to sideline correspondent Lisa Salters. It’s hard to tell if this one was an overt prank against Gruden, Salters or both – but it could have been taken as a racist slight against the wife of Mr. Obama. Not wanting to be dragged down with their colleague, Gruden’s fellow ESPN deskers hastily corrected Gruden and the gaffe was mostly forgotten without incident. Good thing the days of the Red Scare are gone, otherwise Gruden might’ve been suspected of some level of treason…

1. “Chink In the Armor”


Well, here we are again. The jury is still out on whether ESPN online editor Anthony Frederico meant to intentionally write racist slander about a New York Knicks loss against the New Orleans Hornets or if he was simply using a tired pun. Both are not really okay, but the former is specifically what cost the Italian-American editor his job. Furthermore, the network then took measures to avoid the use of this idiom at all costs, coming down on anchor Max Bretos when he was engaged with Walt Frazier in a conversation about the Taiwanese star. Lin, a devout Christian, has been forgiving of any use of the statement and continues to reign on the court.