Gorilla.  Guerilla.  They sound the same, but have different meanings – as demonstrated by possible gaffes such as:

-A revolution can include a lot of gorilla fighting, and

-We’re in the zoo and just passed the guerilla cage.

What you just read might seem innocuous.  But not to Doug Adler, who was fired from his sportscasting job at the increasingly laughable ESPN, because the people there couldn’t, or could but decided not to, see the difference.  And now he is suing.

Excerpted from Scott Stump’s article for

A tennis commentator who was fired from his job at ESPN for controversial comments about Venus Williams is denying accusations of racism and says a misunderstanding has cost him his career.

Doug Adler spoke with Matt Lauer on TODAY Friday about the aftermath of his comment on Jan. 18 during Williams’ match at the Australian Open that led to his dismissal, which prompted him to file a lawsuit against ESPN for wrongful termination.

“It just makes me absolutely sick,” Adler told Lauer about being branded a racist. “It’s not true. It couldn’t be further from the truth, and I don’t quite understand nor accept how something like that can happen to me.”

During Williams’ match against Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele, Adler was describing Williams’ aggressive play when he said, “Venus is all over her. And you’ll see Venus move in and put the guerrilla effect on, charging.”

Many viewers interpreted it as Adler referring to Williams, an African-American, as a “gorilla,” not “guerrilla,” which he strongly denies.

“Nothing to do with an animal,” he told Lauer. “Everything to do with tactics, strategy, how to win the point.”

“If they have good cause to do it, they have the right,” Adler said. “But they didn’t have good cause, and I didn’t do anything wrong. And they didn’t get into it and explore. They didn’t do due diligence.”

Adler continued: “If they threw me out to the wolves and basically, essentially labeled me a racist, they killed me. They made me unemployable. They ended my career. They killed my reputation, my good name. 

Is Doug Adler telling the truth, or covering for his racism?  Very fair question.

Well, if he has displayed any such racism in the past, ESPN certainly would have played a tape of one or more such comments and told us “we gave him a pass before, but this is once too many”.

But they didn’t…which, to me , self-evidently means it doesn’t exist.

Then we have the context.  Did Mr. Adler use terminology that fits the word “gorilla” but not “guerilla” – i. e. do guerillas “move in and…charge”?  Yes, they do;  that is a standard guerilla tactic.

So we have an announcer with no history of on-air racism using a word which, if it what he says it is, fits his commentary perfectly.

For this he was fired?

Lucky his name didn’t sound like a confederate soldier, they’d probably have boiled him in oil too.

I wish Doug Adler every success in his lawsuit.  And ESPN a crash course in not acting like a bunch of idiots.

1 Comment

  • Here is what I found in less than 5 minutes. ESPN should be ashamed of themselves.

    The term “guerrilla” has been used in tennis at least as far back as 1995, when it was used in a Nike campaign that featured Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, two white, male players.

    Peter Bodo sat down with Miami champion Agnieszka Radwanska after her big win.

    “The adjectives that come to mind to describe Radwanska are: Implacable; remote; unflappable; leisurely; languid; measured. She often plays from a low crouch, as if she’s dodging real bullets rather than optic yellow ones. It’s effective as a discipline that yields consistency, but it’s also an apt symbol. Hers is a game of the insurgent. It’s guerrilla tennis — especially against taller, more powerful, more physical rivals.”

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