Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re re-posting it here in case you missed it.
Longtime Iowa Hawkeyes sports announcer Gary Dolphin has been suspended for the remainder of the basketball season over comments he made during a broadcast this week.
Hawkeye Sports Properties said it suspended Dolphin because he made an “inappropriate comment” during Tuesday’s broadcast of Iowa’s game against Maryland, according to KNXO-AM radio in Des Moines.
Dolphin came under scrutiny when he referred to Terrapins player Bruno Fernando as “King Kong.”
The remark came toward the end of a Top 25 clash in which then-21st-ranked Iowa lost 66-65 to 24th-ranked Maryland.
Here is an audio clip provided by CBS Sports’ Chris Hassel:
Here’s the audio that got the Voice of the Hawkeyes, Gary Dolphin, suspended for the rest of the basketball season.
“Fernando was King Kong at the end of the game.”pic.twitter.com/C5Adruj3St
— Chris Hassel (@Hassel_Chris) February 22, 2019
“Fernando was King Kong at the end of the game,” Dolphin said.
Fernando was certainly a difference-maker, finishing with 11 points (on just five shot attempts), 11 rebounds (five offensive) and a pair of blocks. Just as importantly, Fernando won the game with a pair of key offensive rebounds and Maryland’s last four points in the final 30 seconds of the game.
Those are hugely important numbers given it was just a one-point win for Maryland on the road.
Considering that Fernando was a beast in the final 30 seconds of the game, outhustling and outplaying Iowa almost single-handedly, that’s almost certainly the impetus for Dolphin’s use of the term “King Kong.”
To be clear, should anyone be using a fictitious giant ape to describe a black basketball player in 2019? Probably not.
But in this case, Dolphin was clearly using the term “King Kong” to describe Fernando’s power and effort on the boards. Dolphin wasn’t racially labeling random black players as “King Kong No. 1” and “King Kong No. 2.”
Dolphin was using the inherent power of a character like King Kong to describe a playstyle. It’s no different from when NFL running back Marshawn Lynch refers to himself as “Beast Mode” or when people describe former NFL linebacker Brian Urlacher as an animal.
And, again, to be perfectly clear, Dolphin probably shouldn’t have used those words given the heated societal climate in 2019. But to suspend him for the entire season just seems excessive.
“During the broadcast, I used a comparison when trying to describe a talented Maryland basketball player,” Dolphin said in a statement per KCCI-TV. “In no way did I intend to offend or disparage the player. I take full responsibility for my inappropriate word choice and offer a sincere apology to him and anyone else who was offended. I will use this as an opportunity to grow as a person and learn more about unconscious bias.”
“The University of Iowa athletics department supports Hawkeye Sports Properties decision to indefinitely suspend radio play-by-play announcer Gary Dolphin,” Iowa’s athletic department said in a statement per 247 Sports. “The University of Iowa athletics department values diversity and is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all members of its campus community.”
Twitter users were aghast at the excessive suspension over a poor attempt at a compliment.
We’ve lost our minds.
— Tom Giovanniello (@Publisher87) February 23, 2019
— Ryan (@Buhr4ISU) February 22, 2019
Look, a part of me gets it. As mentioned above, Dolphin probably shouldn’t have said what he said. But political correctness has run amok in sports and it needs to stop.
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