Sport Court – Did Hank Williams deserve to get the boot?

Justin Franiak/Joe Pugliese, Asst. Sports Editor/Correspondent

Joe Pugliese

Hank Williams Jr. is most likely known for his intro song to ESPN’s Monday Night Football and the famous lyrics “Are you ready for some football?!”  But the other day he became famous for not the words he sings, but the words he said on Fox News while giving an interview.  Williams has an interest in running for Senate in the near future and has, like many do in this country, strong political opinions.  So naturally, he is the perfect person for an interesting interview, and that’s exactly what it was.  Williams was asked what he thought about President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner’s game of golf.  Williams said ,“That would be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu (Israel’s Prime Minister).” This is what got Hank in trouble.
Williams will no longer have his MNF song on before each game, because ESPN cut ties with him the other day.  I disagree with the move for multiple reasons.  First is that it is a free country, and while what he said was insensitive and a little over the top, it was not racist or hateful in anyway.  Williams was simply stating his opinion and trying to draw a comparison to the current political atmosphere between the Republicans and Democrats.  Second, he was not a formal employee of ESPN; he does not have to abide by their personal conduct policies and rules that normal anchors and analysts must.
Next, when you think of MNF you think of his song pumping you up before each game whether it’s your favorite team playing or someone you really don’t care about. Anytime I watch MNF I miss the song, and it’s upsetting because it works perfectly with the theme of football and the game.
Finally, while it was insensitive and could make Hank look bad, who is really not going to watch MNF because of some comments Hank Williams Jr. made on Fox News in the middle of the day in September?  There would have been zero effect on ratings or revenue if they kept him, and I cannot say it will hurt them because I do not believe anyone will now not watch if the song is not there.
If ESPN did not release him from their arrangement, very few people would have ever known about this. There was very little on this other than the fact he will not be doing the intro to the games anymore.  I cannot knock someone for simply giving an opinion and making a comparison.  Yes, it was insensitive and, ye,s it was unnecessary but worth the effort and the publicity as a result, no.

Justin Franiak

Monday Night Football has become an American institution. The familiar jingle at the beginning has been drilled into my brain as a kid.
Hearing “Are you ready for some football?!” always brings goosebumps to my skin.
Hank Williams became the center point for ABC/ESPN broadcasts for some of the biggest games in NFL history.
He was an idol to many football fans, but his recent actions have caused some people to be turned off.
I believed the network was in the right when deciding to fire the country singer. Williams’ comments were very out of line and offended a wide audience.
I believe the network had no choice in letting him go.
The man is on every commercial for MNF and is before every broadcast of the games. That’s a lot of exposure.
Considering ESPN is a Disney company and it is family-based, ESPN was caught in a tough spot. They could not afford to keep a guy who said something negative about the president, but also making references to events of the past that most see as wrong.
ESPN does not want to lose viewership because a singer decided to run his mouth, and most importantly lose the image of being family oriented.
The NFL also had some play in the decision to fire Williams. The NFL is a very family-first organization.
It plays up the idea of a father and son watching a ballgame together in some advertisements. They want to entertain the family, while still making money by signing huge television deals with a company like ESPN.
If they have a loose cannon like Williams sing before their flagship it taints their reputation.
In the end, it was a business decision and an ethical decision. Both organizations would have lost viewers and revenue, but they also could not afford to let someone outside of their camps to jeopardize their reputation and company image.
I agree with the firing of Williams because ultimately the NFL and ESPN are companies, not places for someone to fire off their opinions.
Williams should have thought twice before coming out and saying what he did. Now he’s singing the blues instead of country.