ESPN apologized for its reporting on Michael Sam’s showering habits as a National Football League player.
“ESPN regrets the manner in which we presented our report. Clearly yesterday we collectively failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports,” ESPN told the Washington Post.
iMediaEthics has asked ESPN if it will be meeting with LGBT groups to discuss how to improve its reporting.
Sam is the first openly gay NFL player and was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in May.
During a report yesterday, ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported Sam was “just one of the guys” and was “taking a rookie approach” as a member of the Rams. One player told her, she said, “he’s just trying to feel his way through and see what guys he can relate to.” Then Anderson discussed Sam’s shower practices.
See below the segment.
“Another Rams defensive player told me that ‘Sam is respecting our space’ in that from his perspective, he seems to think that Michael Sam is kind of waiting to take a shower in not to make his teammates feel uncomfortable.”
She went on, “While [Kendall] Langford and linebacker Alec Ogletree told us they didn’t know that specifically and also weren’t tracking that…While Langford told me, listen I haven’t been in the shower at the same time as Michael Sam he said that there definitely could be a million reasons as to why that is. He said he could be doing extra work on the practice field, he could be riding his bike, he could be doing extra cardio, but overall Langford said he seems to be adjusting to the life in the NFL and the speed of the game.”
Originally, ESPN said yesterday that Rams players were the ones to mention the showering, not ESPN. The Washington Post reported ESPN said: “In response to recent questions about Sam fitting in with the team, multiple Rams brought up the shower topic and we relayed that information as part of our reporting.”
Fishbowl New York called the report’s broadcast “pretty disgusting” “and “absolutely horrible.” It also called for firings of those responsible.
ESPN suspended three hosts briefly this summer for on-air comments. Radio host Max Kellerman was suspended after his on-air comments saying he once slapped his girlfriend (and now-wife) while they were drinking. His comments were in a discussion of Ray Rice, an NFL player suspended from two games following accusations of assaulting his then-girlfriend and now wife.
ESPN TV and radio host Dan LeBatard was off-air for two days after renting a billboard and trying to buy a newspaper ad to criticize LeBron James.
And Stephen Smith was suspended for a week after suggesting women “provoke” assault in his discussion of the suspension of the NFL’s Rice for assault.
UPDATE: 8/27/2014 11:01 AM EST Added in info about other ESPN incidents this summer.