In a column for theticketmiami.com, Le Batard writes that he was just trying to have fun.
I found myself, a little bit by accident and a little bit not, at the center of a funny national sports mess last week. I chose to have some fun in the corporate-sponsored cathedral we’ve made of sports. The episode became a blasphemy, and I was made to pay a two-day penance for my sins. It was a suspension I earned and deserved, by the way, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
The whole experience was turbulent and endlessly entertaining madness. And it worked out for me a lot better than it did for my bosses, though it worked out for them, too. In retrospect, though, the experience was in keeping with my entire sports outlook, irreverently viewing a fun-and-games world I believe most people view way, way too reverently.
Le Batard then details how the stunt unfolded. It’s all there if you want to read it.
Eventually, he addresses the ESPN element.
ESPN didn’t find this quite as funny as I did. I hadn’t checked with my supervisors. I had gone rogue with a local stunt in a national venue in a rah-rah way that isn’t really how ESPN does business. So I was told to suspend the plane flight and whatever shenanigans we had planned for LeBron’s Akron homecoming. I said I would not and could not because we were building this up for days on the radio to a crescendo and to simply stop talking about it and not do it with no mention would be dumb, inauthentic, confusing and not me. I was polite about it, but I was insubordinate. I refused to budge. We were flying the plane. So I was suspended, as I should have been. If I’d actually believed in any of this, I might have flown the plane anyway, even while on suspension, but this would be a pretty silly cause for which to lose your job.
Le Batard then writes.
I say all this because everyone sided with me in the matter of LeBatard vs. ESPN. I mean, everyone. I’m used to being unpopular. I’m used to having opinions people don’t like. I’ve never had this many people behind me on an issue … even though I didn’t believe in my actual cause … and even though I understand exactly why ESPN had to suspend me because, you know, I have more information than the people applauding me, and I was insubordinate.
Now, we can have a different discussion about whether ESPN was too self-serious about protecting its brand in this instance from harmless billboards, a plane and general fun-having. I obviously think so. I got suspended in part for thinking so. Billboards and planes — what’s the big deal? I don’t think I should have been forced into being insubordinate.
I suppose I’m in the minority here. I was critical of what Le Batard did here.
A network needs to have some sort of standards. Otherwise, you’ll have people pulling similar stunts all over the place, and there’s the potential for many of them to explode in ESPN’s face.
As I wrote Friday, I expect this suspension also is related to his earlier move to give his Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin. ESPN is telling him, enough with the stunts.