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Sportscaster Barry Booker Denounced For Calling Gymnasts 'Scantily Clad Girls'

A college basketball announcer who called women gymnasts “scantily clad girls” on the air drew a strong rebuke over the weekend. Officials for the ESPN-owned SEC Network said Sunday that Barry Booker’s remarks were “unacceptable.” 

Booker was covering the Missouri-Arkansas game on the SEC Network Saturday when a promo for an Alabama-Arkansas gymnastics meet on Valentine’s Day prompted the analyst to make an all-kinds-of-wrong comment: “Go hang out with the ladies … I mean, I wanna go see some scantily clad girls!”

As heard in the video above, announcing partner Richard Cross quickly responded: “No, no. One of the great family atmospheres that you will find in all of college athletics is gymnastics meets.” Cross, perhaps sensing that Booker had crossed a line, made it clear that it was Booker who made the cringey remark.

Booker reportedly apologized later.

“The announcer’s words were  inappropriate and do not meet the expectations we have for the SEC Network,” Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a tweeted statement. “We are in communication with the SEC Network and ESPN personnel, and I am confident this issue will be handled appropriately.”

Barry Booker was reprimanded by both the SEC Network and the conference for his remarks.

Barry Booker was reprimanded by both the SEC Network and the conference for his remarks.

The SEC Network, which airs sporting events involving teams in the conference, added that it was “committed to showcasing women’s sports with the utmost regard” and was addressing the “unacceptable” comment internally.

Former Arkansas gymnast Sydney McGlone told The Washington Post that the remark was hurtful.

“I was mostly disappointed with the comment due to the ill intent and the sexualizing of a sport that has already faced so much when it comes to sexual abuse,” McGlone said. “A lot of times gymnasts are already seen in a negative manner for what we have to wear, and the fact that a trained professional would make such a comment was just discomforting!”

Booker, a star player for Vanderbilt in the 1980s, previously worked for ESPN, CBS and Fox Sports, according to the Post. 

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