Sports network ESPN has announced that Robert Lee, an Asian-American broadcast announcer, will not call the University of Virginia’s first football game in Charlottesville, Virgina, next month, due to his name.
Charlottesville most recently became the center of national and global media attention following the violent white nationalist rally there earlier this month. The rally ultimately resulted in the death of a 32-year-old woman when a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors on Water Street, as well as the death of two Virginia State Troopers who were patrolling the assembly in a helicopter.
“We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name,” ESPN said in a statement. “In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play-by-play for a football game has become an issue.”
Since the rally, many people have taken down or called for the remove of Confederate statues across the country. General Robert E. Lee commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War.
Robert Lee is a part-time ESPN employee who calls football and basketball games.
The UVA game is scheduled for September 2.