OK, here we go.
Andrew Cohen of The Atlantic and others didn’t find much humor in the Bill Murray-Lee Corso exchange during Saturday’s edition of College GameDay.
The headline said Corso dressing as the Seminole leader is “the Native Equivalent of Black Face.”
Evidently, no one at ESPN stopped to think: “Hey, maybe some folks might consider Corso’s dance inappropriate” especially for a network that has covered the “Redskins” controversy and has a huge stake in the success and reputation of the National Football League (and college football, for that matter). And clearly no one afteward at the network seemed inclined to offer any sort of explanation or rationale for what had just aired.
But the fact is that many people did consider the episode highly offensive. Here is what a spokeswoman for the National Congress of American Indians told me Saturday evening:
“This is a perfect example of how Native Americans are ridiculed in the course of sports entertainment. Good-natured rivalries are one thing. Wearing the native equivalent of black face is quite another. The Eagle Staff carried by Mr. Corso and thrown into the crowd by Mr. Murray is a sacred symbol of leadership and today is used to honor our Native veterans who have served this country. That it was used as a prop in this mockery and shown such disrespect is proof that our heritage and culture are not honored or respected by the slurs and caricatures used by sports teams.”
I posted the video on my site Saturday afternoon. I thought it was funny, and was shocked that GameDay landed Murray as a guest picker.
However, I did get some responses from people who criticized ESPN for showing a lack of respect in the segment. ESPN is declining comment.
Corso is a Florida State alum and loves the school. It isn’t the first time he has done the Seminole dance on the show. However, given the current climate, it might be the last.