A little over one week ago, it was reported that ESPN had hired Orlando Sentinel sports columnist, Jemele Hill, to be a contributor on their Page 2 segment. The Big Lead stated that she had supposedly signed a 2-year deal worth $400,000. However, in the past few days some of Hill's columns, and responses to readers, could have ESPN rethinking their decision.
On Thursday, October 26, an Orlando Magic fan by the name of Hooman Hamzehloui was kicked out of the Magic/Rockets game for calling Rockets' player, Dikembe Mutombo, a monkey. He issued an apology, and volunteered to donate $5000 to a charity of Mutombo's choice. It was reported on Monday, October 30, that Hamzehloui's season tickets had been revoked, and that he had been banned from all NBA arenas for the entire season.
On Tuesday, October 31, Hill wrote a column expressing her opinion that she believed the Orlando Magic and the NBA had done the right thing. She stated that she thought Hamzehloui believed that "buying a ticket gave him license to act like a jerk". For the most part, Hill condemns the fan's actions, and states that he's "uninformed", acted like a "jerk", and has used "ignorance as an excuse to stay uneducated and make excuses". However, at the end she takes a shot at the Orlando Predators, and their fans, by stating(in reference to Hamzehloui's statement that he won't return to the NBA), "If that's his attitude, he won't be missed. He would make a great Predators fan."
Without that final line, her column probably wouldn't have garnered too much press, at least not of the negative kind. However, as soon as that issue of the Orlando Sentinel hit newstands everyone was talking about how Jemele Hill had put down the Predators and their fans. By the way, the Predators are the most successful professional sports team in Orlando history.
A popular morning talk radio show, "The Monsters in the Morning", devoted quite a bit of time to discussing the issue, as they do many promotions with the Predators, and frequently have Predators president, Brett Bouchy, on the air. In response to the backlash, Hill wrote a column expressing her opinion that the Predators' fans aren't racist. Though, she never addressed her comparisons to someone who is "ignorant" or "acted like a jerk".
The Predators oraganization has responded with two postings on their website(here, and here) addressing Hill's comments, and urging Preds' fans to let her know what they think about the columns.
This morning, Brett Bouchy was scheduled to engage Hill in a debate on "The Monsters in the Morning" regarding her comments, and the opinions that she expressed about the Predators' fans. However, she backed out because, according to Brett Bouchy, "the Orlando Sentinel wanted the story to die". Though, she's supposedly scheduled to make an appearance on another talk radio show that has an opinion similar to hers regarding Predators' fans. Bouchy also read an e-mail response that Hill had supposedly sent to a fan in which she states that the "Predators cater to idiot fans". Bouchy has vowed to make ESPN aware of this incident.
Obviously not everyone is going to agree with everything that someone writes or says. However, it appears that Jemele Hill has gone out of her way to publicly slam the Orlando Predators and their fans, and it seems that quite a few people are pretty upset about it. Before even writing a word for ESPN, Hill will probably get a stern talking-to from the higher-ups in Bristol. She probably shouldn't spend that $200k just yet.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Posted by BDoc at 10:21 AM