As a lifelong sports fan, I've watched and listened to veteran sportscaster Brent Musburger many times over the past 30 or 40 years. Believe it or not, Musburger, who has a long and distinguished career in sports broadcasting, is under fire for calling the current Miss Alabama "beautiful" during the college football championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame earlier this month.
As Alabama administered a decisive 42-14 defeat to the Fighting Irish, an ESPN sports network camera focused on the lovely Miss Alabama, 23-year-old Katherine Webb, who just happens to be the girlfriend of the Crimson Tide's starting quarterback, A.J. McCarron.
"Wow!" Musburger exclaimed. "She's beautiful." That's all it took for the politically correct police to come out of the woodwork to condemn the 73-year-old broadcaster for his "inappropriate" comments. Some extremely sensitive critics called his comments "awkward" and "creepy." So I guess 70-somethings, like Musburger and your favorite Appeal columnist, aren't supposed to tell women that they're beautiful, which smacks of ageism.
Of course ESPN rushed to issue one of those phony apologies like the one disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong delivered to Oprah Winfrey.
"We always try to capture interesting storylines, and the relationship between ... the current Miss Alabama and the Alabama quarterback certainly met that test," ESPN said. "However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far, and Brent understands that." How quaint!
The truth is that ESPN cameramen spend almost as much time focusing on leggy cheerleaders and beautiful women in the stands as they do on the players on the field. All TV networks and most advertisers understand that sex sells, and that's why they zero-in on the lovely ladies of the sports world. Which is why race driver Danica Patrick, who's never won anything, is one of the most popular drivers in the world, and why the very sexy Beyonce will be strutting her stuff during halftime of the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.
So while ESPN fills our TV screens with images of scantily clad babes, its spokespersons - I'm trying to be politically correct here, folks - apologized because Brent Musburger had the temerity to say that Miss Alabama is beautiful, which she most definitely is. In fact, she's drop-dead gorgeous. So there!
How did Ms. Webb react to this televised outrage, you might ask?
Well, she defended Musburger. "I think the media has really been unfair to him," Ms. Webb said ever so sweetly. "Of course I appreciate it (being called beautiful). At the same time, I don't think I need an apology." Attagirl!
For his part the ubiquitous Donald Trump, who owns the Miss America pageant, said an apology was unnecessary. "She gets called beautiful and you're supposed to apologize?" the Donald said. Apologize for what? Good question.
Shortly before I retired from the Foreign Service I told a female colleague that I was an embassy spokesman. "Don't you mean spokesperson?" she asked. "No, I don't think so," I replied. She never spoke to me again. End of story.
• A confession: Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, doesn't mind being seen in the company of beautiful women.