'They aren't there for your misogynistic enjoyment': Broadcaster lands in trouble for 'scantily-clad girls' gymnastics comment
SEC Network basketball analyst Barry Booker made the comments during a live broadcast of Saturday’s Arkansas-Missouri game, when an advertisement appeared on screen for an NCAA gymnastics meet on Friday, February 14.
When announcer Richard Cross suggested it might be a good option for a Valentine’s Day date night, Booker replied: “Yeah, go hang out with the ladies… Honey, I want to go see some scantily-clad girls.”
An uncomfortable Cross hastily responded by saying: “No, no, one of the greatest family atmospheres you will find in all of college athletics is gymnastics meets!”
“I’ll be watching somewhere, in my hotel room,” Booker added with a laugh
He later apologized for the remarks during the same broadcast, but the comments drew a reprimand from network bosses at SEC – which is owned by ESPN and covers collegiate sports sanctioned by the Southeastern Conference in the US.
The network issued a statement saying Booker’s words were “inappropriate and unacceptable” and that the issue was being handled “internally.”
The comments made during yesterday’s telecast were inappropriate and unacceptable. We take this matter seriously and are addressing it internally. SEC Network respects all student-athletes, and is committed to showcasing women’s sports with the utmost regard. https://t.co/SDjKD5JREP— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 9, 2020
The comments also drew fury online, with one Twitter user fuming: "It’s one thing to be a terrible announcer, but it’s another to disrespect the powerful and strong ATHLETES that gymnasts are.
"They are NOT 'scantily clad women; there for your misogynistic enjoyment. You’re gross, Barry Booker, and a part of the problem."
It’s one thing to be a terrible announcer, but it’s another to disrespect the powerful and strong ATHLETES that gymnasts are. They are NOT “scantily clad women” there for your misogynistic enjoyment. You’re gross, Barry Booker, and a part of the problem. @SECNetwork— Brittany McElroy Crow (@bmac_crow) February 8, 2020
One Twitter user demanded that Booker be fired, writing: “You can NOT have a man employed by the SEC who talked that way about young women and mention his hotel room. They are not there to be objectified or sexualized by his creeper ass.”
Yea we will see. You can NOT have a man employed by the SEC who talked that way about young women and mention his hotel room. They are not there to be objectified or sexualized by his creeper ass.— MK💜⚜️🍷 (@mknovaa) February 9, 2020
Speaking to The Washington Post, former gymnast Sydney McGlone claimed the comments were particularly disappointing in light of the sexual abuse scandal involving pedophile former college team doctor Larry Nassar.
“I was mostly disappointed with the comment due to the ill intent and the sexualizing of a sport that has already faced so much when it comes to sexual abuse,” McGlone said.
Others, however, dismissed Booker’s remarks as harmless and said he was merely the victim of “cancel culture” and an overblown reaction.
Cancel culture strikes again.— sweet (@kildozr) February 10, 2020
Such a not big deal that I didn't know about it. Now that I do, still not a big deal.— just a bug (@ivanpatriki) February 9, 2020
Booker will now wait to find out what sanction – if any – comes from the network's review of the situation.