FOX Sports columnist Jason Whitlock has made a long and fruitful career out of strong and often controversial opinions. His tweet regarding New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin crossed the line, however, and after an insincere apology, he deserves to be fired.
Last week during Lin's virtuoso performance against the Los Angeles Lakers, Whitlock posted an insensitive tweet that stemmed from a stereotype against Asian men. For some odd reason Whitlock thought that it was okay for somebody of his stature to make such a comment, but the backlash was immediate.
This prompted Whitlock to offer an apology. There are two very different types of apologies, however. There are sincere ones which people offer when they know they have done something wrong and are truly sorry about it. Then there are insincere ones which are made merely to save face.
It's impossible to know exactly how Whitlock felt when writing his apology on FOXSports.com, but his explanation for why he wrote the tweet and why he should be forgiven were both incredibly weak.
I get Linsanity. I've cried watching Tiger Woods win a major golf championship. Jeremy Lin, for now, is the Tiger Woods of the NBA. I suspect Lin makes Asian Americans feel the way I feel when I watch Tiger play golf.
I should've realized that Friday night when I watched Lin torch the Lakers. For Asian Americans and a lot of sports fans, his nationally televised 38-point outburst was the equivalent of Tiger's first victory in The Masters. I got caught up in the excitement. I tweeted about what a great story Lin is and how he could rival Tim Tebow.
I then gave in to another part of my personality — my immature, sophomoric, comedic nature. It's been with me since birth, a gift from my mother and honed as a child listening to my godmother's Richard Pryor albums. I still want to be a standup comedian.
The couple-inches-of-pain tweet overshadowed my sincere celebration of Lin’s performance and the irony that the stereotype applies to pot-bellied, overweight male sports writers, too. As the Asian American Journalist Association pointed out, I debased a feel-good sports moment. For that, I’m truly sorry.
There is so much wrong with this "apology" that it's tough to know where to start. For one, it's funny that he compares his admiration of Tiger Woods with Asians' admiration for Lin. I'm not sure if Whitlock realizes this, but while Woods is half black, he's half Asian as well.
He then went on to essentially say that, with how well Lin was playing, he should have realized that people would be sensitive regarding the subject matter of the tweet. The fact of the matter is, though, that even if Lin was still riding the pine, his tweet was intolerable because it was racist in nature. What makes it even worse is that Whitlock has always been heavily against racism, or so he says.
Finally, Whitlock tries to score pity points by saying that late comedian Richard Pryor inspired him to tell the joke and that he got his sense of humor from his mother. All of that is well and good, but it's simply fluff that was meant to deflect attention away from the real issue.
Whitlock was already walking on eggshells after posting the tweet, but his apology didn't do him any favors. Rather than simply owning up to his mistake, saying he was wrong and admitting that his tweet was racist in nature, Whitlock found the need to explain his actions with rambling, irrelevant stories.
For the longest time, Whitlock has been on the borderline with some of his ideas and comments, but he finally crossed the line in a big way. His actions are a major black mark on FOX Sports' coverage, and if the outlet is smart, it will cut its losses and relieve Whitlock of his duties.