“Don’t Call Me Sweetcakes”: ESPN Crawls into the 21st Century with Franklin

TODAY FIRED: ESPN fires announcer Ron Franklin

Disney-owned ESPN, which launched ESPN Women (ESPNW) in December of this year calling it,  a web-only “destination for women who are passionate sports fans and athletes. We hope you find it surprising, informative and inspiring, because we created it just for you. We welcome your thoughts,” has just been treated to their first challenge of the new year courtesy of ESPN Broadcaster Ron Franklin.  Franklin has spent his entire career in sportscasting, beginning as sports director for local stations then moving to play-by-play announcing in 1971 for the Houston Oilers.  (source: Wikipedia).

Franklin was born in 1942 and enjoyed full exclusivity and male companionship for nearly his working life, until…HIS domain was infiltrated by THEM, the opposite sex who no doubt were only hired for their physical attributes and not their tiny little brains.  I mean, please, Franklin, while never actually playing the games professionally that he pontificates about, he certainly knows more than women who definitely haven’t played the game. Am I right? I’m sure Franklin agrees.

Take Holly Rowe.  She has been called one of the hardest working women in sports media with various titles that include producer, writer, sideline reporter, play-by-play broadcaster and pundit.  In 2005, she was partnered with Franklin to report the Notre Dame/Purdue game.  Purdue was down by 28 and the game was already well into the fourth quarter.  Rowe commented that she was impressed Purdue was playing all of its options despite a sure defeat using every single time out to continue playing and not crumbling, “If the coaches are giving up, what does that say to the players?”

Franklin responded (for all the broadcast audience to hear), “Holly, it’s not giving up. It’s 49-21, sweetheart.”

2005 was a bad time to use “sweetheart” during a college game.  Women who spend money watch college games.  If you’ve looked at who spends money or at least has influence on household spending, women top the list.  Senior Coordinating Producer Mo Davenport responded calling it “mean-spirited” and firmly stating Franklin had been privately dealt with internally.

He learned, no more sniping about women when his mic is on.  But, five years later in 2010 and with an ESPNW launch behind them, Franklin has found he can’t even humiliate women in private among his buds anymore. Jeannine Edwards, a well-respected horse racing expert who worked her way up from trainer to apprentice jockey has become one of ESPN’s female co-hosts for nearly all types of sports.  Franklin and Edwards were in a production meeting with other broadcasters, one of which was Rod Gilmore whose wife Marie had just been elected the Mayor of Alameda, CA.  When Edwards commented (probably about the fact that Marie Gilmore was the first African-American appointed  to the Alameda City Council in 2003 and what a great moment this was for women).

“According to the report“, Franklin cut Edwards off, “Why don’t you leave this to the boys, sweetcakes.”

“Don’t call me sweetcakes, I don’t like being talked to like that,” Edwards responded.

Franklin then said, “OK then, a**hole.”

Edwards reported the exchange to management.  I would LOVE to have been in the room when Edwards walked out to speak with the men in the suits.   I’m guessing there wasn’t a lot of arm punching and snickering between Cunningham, Gilmore and Franklin.  In fact, YardBarker.com says the comments were confirmed by Ed Cunningham.  You can’t even count on your boys to have your back anymore!

It was too late to pull Franklin off the  Chik-fil-A Bowl broadcast, but he did get the boot from the Fiesta Bowl.  No word on his job status.  What is a sweetcake?