Apparently making sweeping generalizations about athletes using ethnic stereotypes is still something people do when covering sporting events.
During a game between Kansas State and Florida, ESPN announcer Mitch Holthus blamed a foul by Angel Rodriguez of Kansas State on the fact that he has a “Puerto Rican temper.”
The sequence was reason for analysis because in picking up his third foul in the second half of a closely contested game, Rodriguez was severely limiting his team because if he picked up a fourth foul he would have come out of the game. But when Holthus blamed the foul not on Rodriguez, for being a fiery, emotional player — but on the fact that he is Puerto Rican — many took offense.
@latinorebels please I DO apologize! I meant no racial slur at all I have the UTMOST respect for Angel as a student-athlete!
— Mitch Holthus (@mitchholthus) December 23, 2012
USA Today put the incident in context. “It’s unclear what prompted such a comment. But in cases like this, intent is irrelevant. Whether Holthus knew it or not, he was tapping into an offensive stereotype.”
This is not the first time Rodriguez has been the target of insensitive or offensive comments. In March, five members of the Southern Mississippi band had their scholarships revoked for chanting “Where’s your green card?” at him. Puerto Ricans, of course, are U.S. citizens.
While Holthus quickly apologized after being asked to, this is yet another incident for ESPN involving race just this month. TV voice Rob Parker made controversial comments about rookie star quarterback Robert Griffin III. Parker called Griffin III a “cornball brother,” questioning his blackness during his remarks.