August 13, 2010   |9 Comments

Rob Dibble should apologize to sports fans for his sexist comments

As Dan Steinberg noted over at the D.C. Sports Bog, on Wednesday night’s broadcast of the Washington Nationals game, commentator Rob Dibble circled two women sitting behind home plate and stated:

Those ladies right behind there, they haven’t stopped talking the whole game. They have some conversation going on. There must be a sale tomorrow going on here or something….Their husbands are going “man, don’t bring your wife next time.”

And a couple of innings later, moments after Dibble’s partner Bob Carpenter said that he had received from emails complaining, Dibble stated:

I was just thinking, those women, there’s a new series Real Housewives of D.C. that just came out. Maybe they’re filming an episode?

Dibble’s comments don’t need to be explained, but for a well-written reaction from a female sports fan and sportswriter, check out Stacey’s over at Camdenchat.com.

When Dibble made his first comments about the women, the Florida Marlins were up 8-3 on the Nationals. Trappist monks would have been driven to conversation. After all, the game was obviously so exciting that Dibble himself was talking about fans in the crowd.

(Perhaps the women were discussing what a relief it was to be able to watch a Nationals game without having to listen to the boorish commentary of Rob Dibble.)

MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) and the Washington Nationals (which owns MASN in partnership with the Baltimore Orioles) should demand that Dibble immediately apologize for his sexist comments. (They should have done so yesterday.)

During my father’s tenure as athletic director at the University of Kansas, he served as a member of the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics. He recognized the deeply-rooted sexism in sports and spent his career trying to put an end to that by emphasizing the importance of character and ethics in sport.

It was a constant struggle. But he saw that sport doesn’t have to reinforce stereotypes. Instead, it can help break them down.

It only takes one Rob Dibble to alienate female sports fans and make us male sports fans look like jackasses. And for that, he owes all sports fans an apology.

Mr. Dibble, please use this as an opportunity to grow as a person and help break down the very stereotypes you pitched on Wednesday night.

Brian Frederick is the Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication and lives in Washington, D.C. His favorite teams are the Kansas Jayhawks, North Carolina Tar Heels, and whichever team his brother is coaching for. And the underdog. Email him at sportsfanscoalition@gmail.com

Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. Pam Campbell says:

    Right on, Brian!!

  2. Jonny says:

    Whatever. Dibble is on the air to provide “color” commentary, not be some bland personality with jokes straight out of Political Correctland. My wife laughed at what he said. People like you are ruining this country with your hyper-sensitivity and whining. I am convinced that one of the main reasons there is so much societal tension in America today is because people are continually having to walk around on eggshells, scared and worried about offending every single person in sight. And you wonder why people explode and gun down eight of their co-workers. Get a clue and start directing your attention and aggravation toward things that really matter. How many children do you think died of AIDS in Africa while I wrote this posting?

    • admin says:

      OK Jonny. It’s pretty obvious that to ‘get a clue’ one would first have to analyze the context of the comments and the context of the organization. The context of the comments include the broadcast over the MASN’s television airwaves where Nats fans watch and try to enjoy their games. The context of SFC as an organization is to fight for American sports fans’ rights. Sports fans have a right to cheap seats in publicly funded stadiums, a college football playoff, the ability to watch their games and watch their games without commentary which is offensive. The comments didn’t offend you or your wife, but with all due respect, the audience listening extends to more than just 2 people.

      According to you, the problem that Sports Fans Coalition should be focusing on is ‘AIDS in Africa’. If we are focused on what you propose, SFC should change its name to World Health Organization or something to that effect. SFC believes that societal tension has multiple causes, not the least of which relates to sports entertainment costing too much and offering too little. When politicians get involved in sports, there is a consistent outcry that they should have better things to do. Rep. Bobby Rush once said, “We can walk and chew gum at the same time.” The point is that if you let the people in power in sports get away with everything, they will continue commentary that is offensive, they will charge you for parking at a game when you took the subway, they will pillage your tax funds for stadiums while your bridges collapse. There is no end in sight to these practices until someone stands up.

      While it’s easy to find the problems, it’s not so easy to determine solutions to those problems, and that’s what SFC seeks to do. Find solutions.

  3. Geoff says:

    “The point is that if you let the people in power in sports get away with everything, they will continue commentary that is offensive, they will charge you for parking at a game when you took the subway, they will pillage your tax funds for stadiums while your bridges collapse. There is no end in sight to these practices until someone stands up”.

    Oh please. Come on. That is not whats happening here. You are comparing apples and oranges when it comes to this instance and ones that concern taxes and ticket prices and all that. People shouldn’t be able to complain about a harmless comment and cost someone their job. Nobody is standing up for the right thing which is freedon of speech. Your cute little sports fans coalition is just another example of the small interest groups that are ruining this country (albeit an impotent one). Freedom of speech is a right that is dying a quick death and its becasue of pansies like YOU! Grow some skin America. Go ahead and refute my comments and call me immature for name calling and all that, but you know im right.

  4. Geoff Bousum says:

    Thanks for not posting my last message, good to see you are accepting all view points. So Dibble got fired. Like him or hate him, he was a great color commentary guy who was 100 percent pro-Nationals. The guy was entertaining and colorful and passionate. All things the Nats are not. People have said much worse than what he said and never got fired. It angers me that he apologized knowing he was going to get canned. Apologies mean nothing these days because people’s minds can’t be changed a silly prepared apology. I wish the higher ups in these situations would stand up for one of their guys for once instead of just bowing down to the few people who don’t like a harmless comment. You said it yourself above, “The point is that if you let the people in power in sports get away with everything….like offensive comments?” I am sorry to say, Rob Dibble (or any sports announcer for that matter) is not “a person of power”. The people of power were the ones that fired him, sir. I couldn’t stand Dibble, from the days he was on the Dan Patrick show. But, he was a good announcer that had passion and entertainment value. Two things that the Nationals have nothing of. Keep kicking these guys off TV and we will be stuck with a bunch of Joe Bucks. I have looked over your site, I like the philosophy behind the SFC-especially the Philly stuff, my hometown. But I think you are way off base on this one. We as sports fans need to get behind the good guys. Rob dibble is a good guy and didn’t deserve what happened to him. He will re-surface somewhere else, hopefully for him it’s with a better franchise that can appreciate good broadcasting.

    • admin says:

      Geoff — Thanks for both of your replies. Sorry for the delay, there are only of a couple of us and the replies won’t post until somebody approves it first. We are a little behind.

      What I think Jeremiah was trying to say in the previous response from us was that Dibble’s comments are a reflection of an overall attitude towards fans that is disrespectful and condescending. Don’t forget Dibble worked for the Nats since MASN is owned by the team. And since he was so pro-Nats as you point out, he was a public face of the team.

      We believe in holding owners, players, journalists and fans to a higher standard. Fans are disrespected at every turn, and indeed, some fans are disrespectful. But fans are not public figures getting paid very well to do their jobs — they are the ones paying for everything.

      Please note, in my original column I did not call for Dibble to be fired. I did not and do not believe that was warranted in that case. Nor do I think he should have been for the Strasburg comments. I enjoyed his commentary most of the time. But I strongly felt he owed fans an apology for repeatedly disrespecting the fans the way he did. And indeed, he apologized.

      Again, I believe in the power of sports to lift us up as a society. We here at SFC will continue to fight against business practices and commentary that degrades and further alienates sports fans. I hope you’ll continue to join us in that fight, even if at times you disagree with us.

      –Brian

  5. Tretsmits says:

    Yes, That is exactly what it was:))


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