After the Jeremy Lin mess, you would think ESPN’s editorial staff would be on high alert in relation to headlines aimed at sports figures with Asian backgrounds.
But no; here were are again, after what was (hopefully?) an honest mistake on the part of ESPN’s web editors, all in an effort to make witty headlines for the .com entity. The latest unintended target was wide receiver Hines Ward, previously of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ward was released by the Steelers earlier this week, and again, in an effort to sound catchy, hip, and “with it,” ESPN.com produced the following headline to announce Ward’s roster situation:
No Happy Endings
Now, in the context of sports business, this isn’t such a bad headline. Ward wanted to stay with his old team and his old team had different ideas. No happy ending for Ward on that front. So far, so good. But then, the realization that Ward is, in fact, Asian having been born in Korea. Ward’s father was African-American and his mother was Korean. In case you aren’t aware of why a “happy endings” headline might be considered offensive, allow Urban Dictionary to educate you.
In case UD is “too much” for you, the guys at Robot Chicken made a parody of the whole “happy ending” concept:
As pointed out by Yahoo’s NFL blog, Shutdown Corner, Alicia Barnhart was the first to notice ESPN’s unfortunate choice of headlines, and she took to her Twitter account to inform the unwashed masses:
As of now, the fallout for the Hines Ward headline isn’t anywhere near what approached the reaction to Lin’s headline. The Ward headline was removed, either through a simple rotation of stories or someone finally made the connection. There hasn’t been any kind of announcements of suspensions or firings, however, leading us to believe this particular headline was much more innocuous than the one used for Jeremy Lin.
Maybe Alicia Barnhart just needs to get her mind out of the gutter. 😉