The voice of Michigan football should stick to calling play-by-play.
Frank Beckmann, the Wolverines’ radio broadcaster for more than three decades, has apologized and was condemned by the university for his weekly Detroit News column appearing May 24 that was titled, “Sergio Garcia ‘chicken’ gaffe reveals our thin skin.”
Garcia created a controversy recently when he responded to his longtime feud with fellow golfer Tiger Woods by saying he’d invite Woods for dinner while “serving him fried chicken.”
Garcia later apologized for the racial stereotype, but it was the “politically correct” reaction by some that bothered Beckmann.
In his column, Beckmann wrote: “What the Spanish golfer — wonder if he favors paella? — didn’t realize is that fried chicken was once a popular dish among American slaves who were not allowed to own livestock and couldn’t avail themselves of other southern delicacies like steak and ham.
“To the politically correct, the mention of fried chicken is an immediate endorsement of slavery rather than a testament to the innovative determination of the American slave population to improve its own physical well-being by creating a readily available dish which improved their diet.
“Making fried chicken and popularizing it could thus be viewed as an accomplishment that should serve as a testament to the determination of a group of people who found an inventive way to subsist while enduring unimaginable and deplorable living conditions.
“But that would remove the opportunity of the political elite to capitalize by creating an atmosphere of victimization.”
Beckmann hasn’t been disciplined, but he was publicly reprimanded by the university, which released a statement distancing itself from his comments and calling them “offensive and inaccurate.”
“At the University of Michigan we strive at all times, in all ways, to create a campus that is open and inclusive and free from insidious racial stereotypes,” the statement read.
The Detroit Free Press reported that members of the university’s Board of Regents expressed their concern directly to Beckmann, which, in turn, led to an apology in the Detroit News by Beckmann, admitting that he was “off base.”
“In my effort to emphasize my disdain for political correctness, I conflated it with the Sergio Garcia/Tiger Woods situation and that was a mistake on my part,” Beckmann wrote. “I failed to properly consider the sensitivity of racial comments which stereotype people and the pain that causes.
“That was a mistake on my part and I regret it.”
In addition to his play-by-play job, the award-winning Beckmann is host of “The Frank Beckmann Show,” which often focuses on political issues, on Detroit radio station WJR. He was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame five years ago.