Growing up near Chicago, I still keep an eye on the happenings of the city. This last week brought out two controversies in the Chicago sports landscape, both hatching from simple Google searches. When reading through the situations, it reinforces the power of the web in our daily lives, which is only going to continue to increase.
A female sportscaster, Susannah Collins, who was employed by Comcast Sportsnet Chicago, was on after a Blackhawks game on April 30, and had the following comical slip up:
When I saw that online, I giggled, moved on, and basically forgot about it. Susannah’s employers didn’t treat it the same way, as she was fired within 48 hours of her on air mistake. After that little video clip traveled around the web, some other results appeared under Susannah Collins. One in particular was a web series that she took part of in back in 2009 called Sports Nutz. The satirical series did have some off-color jokes, but sure didn’t seem all that bad. In fact, Comcast Sportsnet was aware of the series when Collins was hired.
However, as average users began searching for her name online to see the funny ‘having tons of sex’ slip up shown above, they were also coming across the Sports Nutz videos. It was then brought to light that the owner of the Blackhawks, Rocky Wirtz, upon seeing the Sports Nutz clip, reached out to Comcast saying he wanted Collins off of their broadcasts immediately. Comcast CSN relented and let her go. Susannah has been a fan favorite on the telecasts, not just because of her good looks, but the way she handles celebrities with ease, such as Jim Belushi and Mr. T.
Susannah has completely taken the high road since the termination, releasing the following statement:
As most of you know by now, I had a slip-up last week on the air while covering the Blackhawks playoff series. As a result of the attention it received, an old web-based sports comedy series I participated in several years ago came to light. The intention of that show was to present a satirical, tongue-in-cheek approach to sports but, unfortunately, some of the material it contained was off-color and offensive. I understand why some may have been offended by it and for this I am truly sorry. To be clear, that show in no way reflects my personal opinions.
It has always been my dream to cover my hometown teams on the network I loved watching. I have worked tirelessly to develop my skills as a sports reporter, anchor and host, and I want to thank the city of Chicago for allowing me that opportunity. The outpouring of support I have received is overwhelming and it will remain in my heart, as will Chicago. Always.
A semi-racy online comedy series pales in comparison to what happened with the owner of the Chicago Rush, the local arena football team. Arena football was a growing business in the 1990s and scaled to 17 teams by 2007. However, when the economy tanked in 2008, the league went into a tailspin and eventually folded. The idea, however, was to gradually attempt to bring the league back to its heyday.
This February, the Rush was purchased by a 34-year old Chicagoan named David Staral for an undisclosed amount. He informed the fans that he grew up a huge Chicago Bears fan, had some connections with the Bears, and was looking for a minority owner to take the team to the next level. The fans had some high hopes after a few introductory press conferences announced big plans.
Those hopes were dashed when the Chicago Sun Times put out an extensive piece on May 6. It turns out Mr. Staral filed for bankruptcy protection just a month before purchasing the Rush. He is also a three -time convicted felon who is still on probation, and he bounced two $50,000 checks to the AllState Arena, which were intended to secure home games for the Rush. When the news broke, Staral was quickly forced out as the Rush owner and the team is now being once again managed by the league.
While these two pieces differ greatly, they illustrate the power of the web. In the case of Susannah Collins, something she had fun with four years ago is forever online and ultimately caused her to lose her job. I find it rather hypocritical that Comcast SportsNet knew everything about Collin’s former positions but decided to cut ties with her only when that past was brought up to the public. I’m not the only one who shares that opinion, either. Since it was Rocky Wirtz, the owner of the Blackhawks, who demanded Collins get kicked off the Blackhawks telecasts, more than a few people have asked that Club Ambassador Bobby Hull be fired for his colored past of domestic violence, which no one in their right mind would think is worse than what Collins was involved in.
For the Arena Football League, a huge embarrassment could have been avoided with a simple Google search of David Staral. I have a feeling the league was more than happy to take on anyone who said they could scratch a check, but the ordeal ended up costing them a pretty severe tarnishing of their reputation because they couldn’t even perform a five second search.
At the end of the day, these examples are another indication as to how much the web affects our daily life. Unfortunately, something done for comedy years ago could cost you your reputation as well as your employment. On the flip side, from a hiring perspective, not doing some simple research when the tools are right at your fingertips could result in some humiliation or worse.