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There's no defending Jeremy Roenick's inappropriate and demeaning comments

For The Win logo For The Win 12/24/2019 Hemal Jhaveri
Jeremy Roenick wearing a suit and tie © Provided by For The Win

Late last week, NBCSN’s NHL analyst Jeremy Roenick went on Barstool Sports’ Spittin’ Chiclets podcast and made gross, demeaning comments about his co-workers that violate not just professional boundaries but those of friendships as well.

While talking to host Paul Bissonnette, Roenick shared a story about a vacation he took to Portugal with his wife and co-host Kathryn Tappen, and alluded to wanting to have a threesome.

“Kathryn is an awesome co-worker. But all of a sudden, this older lady is sitting there (by the pool) with her husband, staring at us the whole time. I think her curiosity rose to a level where she’s like, ‘I’ve got to figure out what the hell is going on here.’ So she walks right into the pool and comes right up to us and says, ‘OK, what’s the situation? What’s going on?’

“I just said, ‘I’m just having a very, very wonderful trip.’ She said, ‘Are they both with you?’ I said, ‘Yes, they are.’ Then Kathryn says, ‘Will you shut up?’ She starts yelling at me. I played it off like we were going to bed together every night, the three of us. And my wife and Kathryn are very close friends, and they scream and yell at me. But it’s worth the yelling. And if it really came to fruition, that would be good. But it’s never going to happen.”

Tappen, an award-winning journalist, released a statement saying she thought Roenick’s comments were “unacceptable.”

“While Jeremy and I continue to be good friends, what he said was unacceptable, especially among workplace colleagues. I do not condone his comments,” she told the AP’s Stephen Whyno.

NBC has indefinitely suspended Roenick without pay for those comments as well as jokes he made about male co-host and former teammate Patrick Sharp. When asked if he would consider sleeping with Sharp, Roenick also said, “He is so beautiful. I’d have to think about it if he asked me.”

On social media though, plenty of people have come to Roenick’s defense, trotting out the same excuses that get circulated whenever powerful men make sexual jokes about women.

Roenick’s comments, even made under the guise of flattery, are grossly inappropriate.  NBC, already under fire for suppressing reporting over Harvey Weinstein and their handling of the Matt Lauer’s sexual misconduct,  did the right thing in suspending Roenick.

Female anchors, in sports or any other field, face a constant battle to be taken seriously for their work and not just for their looks and perceived sex appeal. In an industry where Tappen constantly faces an uphill battle, Roenick undercut all her noteworthy professional accomplishments by reducing her to her desirability among men.

It doesn’t matter that Roenick complimented her work ethic and preparedness, or crowed about her professionalism. All of his words were undercut by his demeaning references to her sexuality. Co-workers and friends deserve far more respect than what Roenick offered.

There’s no gray line here with what Roenick said, about Tappen or Sharp. Discussing whether or not you’d sleep with a co-worker is not just an inexcusable professional lapse, but hurtful and dehumanizing to all parties.  NBC has already suspended Roenick, and should think about severing ties permanently.

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