Was it right or wrong to fire Kelly Stewart over homophobic tweets in 2012? That’s what sports fans are discussing today after the betting analyst was fired for offensive tweets that were almost a decade old.
Stewart was hired as a betting analyst for ESPN last month, as the sports personality was under contract to appear on the Daily Wager podcast among other avenues in betting coverage. With extensive experience, having hosted the Bet On It podcast and founded Wager Talk, an outlet for sports betting, Kelly Stewart offers a unique perspective and voice in the world of sports analytics.
It was a no-brainer that ESPN took her on, and fans were sure that Stewart would be in it for the long haul. Scott Clark, a long-time member of the ESPN family, even said last month that “having an experienced voice like Kelly Stewart join us better positions us to expand our sports betting content going forward.”
Despite the sentiment, the company is turning its back on the decision to hire Stewart, cutting ties with the fresh voice after homophobic tweets from nearly a decade ago have resurfaced. The reaction to Stewart’s firing is mixed.
“If you dig deep enough,” Bobby Burack posted to Twitter, “talk to enough people, and think hard enough — you’ll find regrettable moments. Pick a person, any person, the moments are there.” Burack then continued, “the story isn’t about Kelly Stewart’s old tweets. It’s far bigger than that.”
It wasn’t long before outrage surfaced across Twitter and other social media outlets. Stewart’s firing ignited a barrage of comments. Many viewers are tired of the so-called “cancel culture.” OutKick, a sports and politics Twitter account, said “the blueprint is simple: yell (tweet) loud enough, use words like ‘racist’ and ‘homophobic,’ and your outrage could also make a difference. Thus, the death of many careers over old social media posts.”
Like OutKick, hundreds of ESPN fans have had enough of celebrities and media personalities getting canned over decade-old tweets. Still, no matter how many retweets or “likes” a post gets, there are thousands more who stand with ESPN’s decision, believing that the right outweighs the wrong.
“I did not need to be introduced to this god-awful person who’s also astoundingly stupid as I try and finally go to bed, but here we are,” one Twitter user posted in response to a list of Kelly Stewart’s 2012 tweets. The homophobic slurs and offensive language are hard to take.
Having dropped the f-word several times and calling people “g-yhawks,” Stewart’s tweets have sparked quite a controversy. Though they were responses to Internet trolls, the offensive tweets are hardly excusable. Now that the world has voiced its opinions on Stewart’s firing, she has a few words to say about the entire predicament.
“I know the words I used are unacceptable and hurtful and I am terribly sorry for this lapse in judgment,” Kelly Stewart posted in her apology tweet Thursday. “But I cannot apologize for standing up to the vicious attacks I, and so many other female personalities, endure from anonymous online trolls.”
She continued, excusing her actions by dating them back “a decade ago,” pointing out several times that the tweets were old news. “While I regret the language I tweeted over a decade ago, I don’t regret standing up for myself against vile, threatening, and misogynistic attacks from men who were threatened by a woman…”
She finished the apology by saying “that I have been working hard… since making this terrible mistake back in 2012.” The mistake has cost her quite a lot of fans and an ESPN contract. Though many stand with Kelly Stewart, others find it hard to accept the language she chose, comparing internet trolls to homosexual people using offensive words.
Underneath her apology are dozens of tweets in solidarity with Stewart, saying that ESPN is a “woke” network afraid of “cancel culture.” And for many, they can’t understand why the sports channel would take tweets from 9 years ago into consideration. For many, this is yet another step towards censorship, and a world where “cancel culture” destroys careers before people have a chance to show they’ve changed.