Center for Ethics and Leadership

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sportstalk Crosses the Line

WIP radio in Philadelphia may be the leading sportstalk station in the country, and its morning show is the best of the bunch. But earlier this week, host Angelo Cataldi pushed a point for controversy's sake that angered his co-host Rhea Hughes more deeply than I have ever heard her respond.

NHL troublemaker and all-around flake Steve Avery, who plays for Dallas, was in Calgary for a game. Avery has dated both Rachel Hunter and Elisha Cuthbert, both of whom now date other NHL players. Cuthbert is dating a defenseman for Calgary. Earlier on game day Avery deliberately called over a Canadian TV network and remarked about other players dating his "sloppy seconds." The NHL immediately suspended him. The Dallas organization fully agreed, and even his teammates refused to come to his defense, so offensive was the remark. As third co-host Al Morganti said, Avery's comment was clearly intended to start a serious fight when the game was played.

For readers who do not understand what Avery meant, let me explain. The phrase "sloppy seconds" refers to sexual intercourse. In its original context it refers to a woman's having sex with more than one man in a single session. There is no more degrading way to refer to a woman or to insult a man who is in a relationship with that woman.

Angelo praised Avery for his honesty in making the statement, and refused to budge when both Al and Rhea and even regular guest Hugh Douglas tried to explain the problem to him. Finally, Rhea said to a guy with whom she has worked for more than ten years, "You have no respect for women." She meant it. I have never heard her more angry, and I have heard Rhea yell at callers. And she didn't raise her voice.

I turned off the radio at that point. I had arrived at the office. Maybe they patched things up. But it wasn't funny, Angelo. And don't pretend that a 58-year-old man (you) didn't know the term and its offensiveness, as it seemed you were doing. You might as well know now that I listen less after football season because I grow weary of your verbal leering at cheerleaders and dancers from gentleman's clubs, and I'm no prude. Rhea, maybe you should get tougher with Angelo when he goes through his routine with attractive young women. Your protests too often are feeble. Angelo, be careful. You don't want to end up exiled to satellite radio like Howard Stern.

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