ESPN 980 has suspended radio hosts Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin for their heinous attack on Gabrielle Ludwig and other transgender athletes on their Dec. 6 show. The station has released this statement:
We strongly believe two of our employees crossed the line when discussing a tanssexual person on their program last Thursday. Such intolerance and insensitivity will never be tolerated by this company. Due to the nature of their conversation, the pair have been temporarily removed from ESPN980's Sports Reporter program.
Outsports called for their suspension yesterday after hearing their three-minute anti-trans rant. My guess is that someone at ESPN told the station they had to do something concrete, it had to include a suspension, and they had to do it fast. And we know GLAAD has been working with the station on a proper response. ESPN released a statement to Outsports earlier today rejecting the comments made by the two hosts.
GLAAD has called the suspension a "strong message," and I agree.
What's maddening is that just yesterday the station claimed that contracts prohibited them from discussing any punishment. That was clearly just a line they gave people because no punishment was coming; But saying "we can't discuss it," that left a question in people's mind if there was a behind-closed-doors punishment. Now we know.
Some people have already taken to Twitter attacking the station for the suspension. I talked to Ludwig this morning. I asked her about the effect of the comments by these two radio hosts.
“These two people in Washington DC just tore my life apart, and they don’t even know me. They did it in respect to how I look, how I’m built, the tattoos on my body. They took great pride in humiliating me in the national public. I don’t know if I’m supposed to cry or scream or beat them up. It’s affecting my sleep, it’s affecting my confidence.
"My only saving grace is knowing there are people in my corner including the kids that I coach. And the team we played on Saturday. They invited me into their locker room and took pictures. And they posted them on Facebook and said, 'This is one of the nicest players we've ever played and you can’t judge a book by its cover.'"
Ludwig also told Outsports that she has considered quitting the team because of the negative backlash. The school has had to hire added security and give her a special parking spot to help ensure she is not physically attacked during a game or practice. She said her team loves her and the coach will not let her leave the team. She said ultimately she hopes some good will come from this for other trans athletes.
“If I have to take a beating for it, it’s worthwhile,” Ludwig said.
You can reach the station's management here.