What we SHOULD have been talking about after the Duke’s Mayo Bowl: Terps head coach Mike Locksley gets doused in mayonnaise. Image: Getty Images
For those tuning in to the North Carolina state radio show to hear a friendly voice narrate a bowl game with a stupid sponsorship against a former conference enemy – Maryland – who better to do it than Gary Hahn? He’s in his fourth decade as the Wolfpacks’ play-by-play announcer, and surely he could get through that day without embarrassing himself, the university, the sponsors, and the people of Raleigh. Turns out a jar of mayonnaise would have been a better choice because at least it can’t say anything racist.
There is no place for racism in bowl games
What I heard from Hahn in North Carolina over the holiday season made my head drop and start shaking. Before giving listeners the Sun Bowl’s current score, he did a little editing when he said, “Among all the illegal aliens down in El Paso [Texas]it’s UCLA 14, Pittsburgh 6.”
Hahn’s obnoxious remarks about undocumented immigrants during the game made the various mayonnaise concoctions shown throughout the show look like a perfectly marbled ribeye. What was intended as a simple score update became Hahn’s indefinite suspension.
Let me say this: I appreciate local sports channels. Before I got into third grade, I’d probably heard the call to Michael Jordan’s winning shot in Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers 100 times, but I was 31 years old before I knew Verne Lundquist and Hubie Brown made the national call for it made game. I can’t look at these Jordan fist pumps without hearing Jim Durham and Johnny “Red” Kerr scream with delight.
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Apparently, making Hahn’s testimony superficial about people was terrible. It was a hateful generalization by people in a town on the Mexico-US border, where a “state of emergency” has been declared and migrants are currently being held at their convention center.
Even though he’s supposed to be addressing the locals, I’m not exactly sure to what large audience in Raleigh he was making that statement. Without delving too deeply into politics, anti-immigrant sentiment is not profitable in this part of America.
Sports announcers like Hahn have a responsibility to all fans
When speakers articulate over a microphone what a fan base is collectively experiencing, it’s a beautiful moment where nothing on this planet feels more right than sport. Fans were in their hearts just last month when they heard teary-eyed Argentine-born Andrés Cantor scream to heaven that his home country were world champions while clutching a member of the 1986 national-winning team, Claudio Borghi.
And that was on an American show.
But when a local celebrity arrogantly claims that these airwaves are spewing out bigotry, the show’s charm dims pretty quickly. It happened to Thom Brennaman in 2020 when he used a gay slur on a Cincinnati Reds show. While these broadcasts are not national, this does not give the person trusted to guide fans through the competition any license to exclude certain members of the community.
Yes, the show is for locals, but the personalities can’t unilaterally choose which locals to target. Raleigh is home to a large population, and NC State has the most students in North Carolina. Excited NC State fans — who couldn’t enjoy last season’s Bowl performance due to a COVID outbreak at UCLA — tuned in to this broadcast to hear a familiar voice narrate a happy ending to the season. It wasn’t a national championship, but it’s still the Mayo Bowl. It’s the quirky one with the viral moments that people pay attention to because mayonnaise is thrown at the winning trainer instead of Gatorade.
It’s meant to make everyone feel good about it, except for those of us who refuse to use that gooey blob as a condiment and others who made an unsuccessful bet. A fun afternoon during the holidays, depressing from a man who never missed an opportunity to poke fun at one of the world’s most vulnerable groups.
The opposite of everything happy on the local sports channel.