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Oakland Athletics Announcer Fired For Using Racial Slur On-Air

By Andrew Sanford | TV | May 23, 2023 |

By Andrew Sanford | TV | May 23, 2023 |


Major League Baseball has emphasized celebrating the Historical Negro Leagues this year. They should! The Negro National League produced some of the best players the game has ever seen. They are as entwined in the sport’s history as the threads in a baseball. Minor and Major League teams have been hosting celebratory events. The MLB’s primary video game, MLB: The Show, included Negro League players and stories for the first time this year.

Unfortunately, the celebrations have also brought controversy. Whether or not that controversy was intentional will be discussed in baseball circles for years to come. The Oakland Athletics have made up their mind on the matter. On May 5th, the announcer for the A’s, Glen Kuiper, visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. When discussing the trip on-air, he incorrectly referred to the Leagues. Specifically, he mispronounced the word Negro.

I’m not going to share the clip. If you want to find it, go ahead, but I’m sure you already know what he said. Kuiper later apologized on-air and was then suspended. Following his suspension and, as the Athletics said, an “internal review,” Kuiper was fired.

I will be honest. I did not think Kuiper would be fired for the incident. Personally, it felt like a mistake. It is a terrible mistake that ruined what should have been a celebratory moment. But it still felt like a mistake. That being said, Kuiper claimed in a statement that he wished the A’s had “taken into consideration (his) 20-year broadcasting career.” I think they did. If you’ve been doing this for 20 years, you shouldn’t make “mistakes” like this.

It emphasized how easily the African American experience can be denigrated. In a country where racism is baked into its very fabric, what may seem like a slip of the tongue can be devastating to an entire race of people. In short, there’s no way the Oakland Athletics could have made any other decision, and this is at a time when attitudes toward their ownership are already at an all-time low.

In 2023, companies get called out for playing lip service to progressive causes. The Los Angeles Dodgers recently reversed a decision to exclude The Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence (a community of Queer and Trans Nuns) from their Pride Night celebrations. Even with their course correction, they are still facing backlash. People demand better from these organizations.

Glen Kuiper’s mispronunciation of negro and subsequent firing will send a message to sports broadcasters. Claiming that the incident, plus an internal review led to his dismissal is particularly damning. While we don’t know what the internal review uncovered, it does show a willingness by teams to take a “salt the Earth” style approach to discipline.

There will be those who argue the same tired old point of view that “you can’t say anything anymore” or that “people can’t make mistakes!” I would argue that when your mistakes are this big, they cannot be ignored.