Jeremy Roenick is no longer a part of NBCSN’s NHL coverage. The hall of famer was first suspended after he appeared on Barstool Sports’ popular hockey podcast Spittin’ Chiclets.
The podcast’s December 19th episode included an in person interview with Roenick. He described a trip he took with his wife, Tracy, and an NBCSN co-host, Kathryn Tappen last summer. While he was talking, he jokingly made sexual comments regarding Tappen and his desire to sleep with her. NBC suspended Roenick indefinitely without pay.
On Wednesday, Roenick tweeted out this video with a caption of, “What a joke!!”.
“I am very disappointed and angry today that I will not be returning to NBC,” Roenick said.
First of all, Kathryn Tappen has every right to be frustrated with Roenick for what he said on the podcast. There is an argument to be had regarding how offensive his comments were. However, she has a legitimate gripe.
Women in professional sports media have many obstacles blocking them from thriving in the business. There is more of an emphasis put on their appearance. They are constantly around male players who are active or retired. Very rarely are there multiple women on these shows at the same time.
Tappen must have been annoyed with her looks being brought into the conversation. She wants people to focus on what she says, not how she looks while she is saying it. Even though Roenick was not being serious, he should not have been bringing up her appearance in such an explicit way.
Having said that, Roenick’s punishment should have been a suspension. It is unclear if he was fired by NBC or if his contract was up and they chose not to bring him back. If Tappen told NBC she did not want to work with him again, their decision seems more understandable. It is fair to wonder if her opinion played a role in NBC’s verdict. Hopefully more details emerge regarding Tappen’s thoughts and NBC’s reasoning.
On the other hand, Roenick not returning is a blow to sports media, regardless of what you think of him and those comments. Media members are continuously reprimanded for making controversial statements. A lot of times, the most controversial opinion is the most interesting one. Fans are clamoring for athletes and media members to be as honest as possible. Except when they speak openly, they are often punished for it.
Hockey especially has this problem. The sport is consistently criticized for how robotic and cliche ridden the players are during press conferences. But many players see what happens to others who speak their mind and must think it is easier to just give dull answers. Many media members think this way as well.
Which is why Spittin’ Chiclets is such a great outlet for former and current players. They can speak freely in a humorous, light-hearted atmosphere. But some players must take note of what happened to Roenick and keep their thoughts to themselves.
So while Roenick should have faced discipline for those comments, him being done at NBC is not something to celebrate. If our society continues to punish players and commentators for sharing their true thoughts, we will continue to hear about the importance of chipping pucks in and waiting for good pitches to hit.
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones