Mike Freeman is described on USA Today’s website as the race and inequality editor for USA Today Sports. His resume seems pretty impressive, per his Wikipedia entry:
He has previously written for The New York Times, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, Boston Globe, Florida Times-Union and CBSSports.com. He is also the author of five books, including a biography on Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden. His book ESPN: The Uncensored History, which alleged sexual harassment, drug use and gambling, was the first critical study of ESPN.
As an opinion writer, he is perfectly entitled to offer his uncensored views on topics he believes are worthy of discussion. That’s a First Amendment right that he exercises, much as everyone else in America has the right to, at least for now.
But lately, Freeman seems to be on a streak of demanding that anyone who makes a gaffe, even unintentional, even if they apologize, should somehow pay for it with their job, their career and their dignity. No matter how much or how little it actually impacts the people who hear it or read it.
Earlier this week, West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins apparently engaged in an exchange on a conservative Cincinnati radio station’s talk show which Freeman used his pulpit to reinforce the details of:
During his appearance on the Bill Cunningham Show on Newsradio 700 WLW, Huggins was asked about his former rivalry against Xavier during his time as coach at Cincinnati. “Any school that can throw rubber penises on the floor and then say they didn’t do it, my God, they can get away with anything,” Huggins said in the interview.
Cunningham then responded and said, “I think it was ‘Transgender Night,’ wasn’t it?”
It was then when Huggins used an anti-gay slur.
Huggins clearly was out of line, and as Freeman’s colleagues Chris Bumbaca, Jordan Mendoza and Steve Berkowitz reported, there have indeed been consequences:
The university reduced Huggins’ pay for the 2023-24 season by $1 million, according to a statement from West Virginia. Huggins had been scheduled to be paid $4.15 million for the 2023-24 season. He will also be suspended for the first three games of the 2023-24 season and undergo sensitivity training. Huggins’ contract will be amended from a multi-year agreement to a year-by-year agreement, effective Wednesday. The athletic department said it notified Huggins “any incidents of similar derogatory and offensive language will result in immediate termination.”
Huggins also offered the following in the same article:
Huggins said in a statement he has reflected on the “awful words” he said and regrets his actions. “I also regret the embarrassment and disappointment it has caused our Athletics family, members of our campus community and the state of West Virginia. I am sorry for the hurt and distress I have caused our students and our student-athletes. I represent more than just our university and our basketball program, and it pains me to know that I have let so many people down,” he said. “I have no excuse for the language I used, and I take full responsibility.”
For a 69-year-old man from an area steeped in decades of racism, even getting to the point of recognizing the gravity of his gaffe is a step in the right direction. A far greater one than anyone, say, in the audience at a CNN Town Hall in New Hampshire last night apparently has taken, let alone the buffoon they were cheering that is on track to become the 47th President of the United States.
But no, Freeman continues to believe that anything short of complete cancellation is an appropriate penalty for anyone to pay who somehow does not embrace his vision of “equality”. Even when he’s more lenient, he still somehow wants to extract more pounds of flesh. Take his reaction to what happened with longtime Oakland A’s broadcaster Glen Kuiper last week:
The first I heard about Oakland Athletics television broadcaster Glen Kuiper using a racial slur during Friday’s pregame show was a tweet from Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick. If you don’t know Kendrick, he is a living, breathing superhero. One of the classiest human beings not just in baseball, but in all of sports. His words carry substantial weight.
“I’m aware of the unfortunate slur made by Glen Kuiper. I welcomed Glen to the NLBM yesterday and know he was genuinely excited to be here,” Kendrick tweeted Saturday. “The word is painful and has no place in our society. And while I don’t pretend to know Glen’s heart, I do know that my heart is one of forgiveness. I hope all of you will find it in yourselves to do the same.”