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Golf Gaffe: CBS Pulls Commentator Off Air Over Lesbian Comments

May 12, 1995 GMT

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ CBS golf commentator Ben Wright may have hooked his career into the woods by saying lesbians are turning the women’s pro tour into a ``butch game″ and their breasts interfere with their swing.

The network summoned Wright to New York and pulled him from Friday’s TV coverage of the women’s championship after the remarks were published in The (Wilmington) News Journal.

``To come to a complete understanding, Ben Wright will meet with CBS Sports in New York ... to address statements attributed to him in recent news reports,″ the network said in a statement.

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Wright had no immediate comment but sent a note to participants at the LPGA championship that was posted in their locker room at the DuPont Country club, said a tour member who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In the note, Wright disassociated himself from the newspaper’s ``lies and distortions attributed to me.″ He accused the News Journal of ``dishonest tactics.″

Wright, who has been with CBS for 23 years, was quoted by a woman reporter for the newspaper as saying that lesbians hurt corporate interest in the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour.

``Let’s face facts here. Lesbians in the sport hurts women’s golf,″ he said in Friday’s newspaper. ``When it gets to the corporate level, that’ not going to fly. They’re going to a butch game and that furthers the bad image of the game.″

Tour player Lauri Merten called Wright ``a jerk″ and said ``he should be fired.″

Charles S. Mechem Jr., the LPGA commissioner, said the tour will reserve comment until Saturday. No potential sponsor has ever cited lesbianism as a reason for withholding support, Mechem said.

Wright also said in the interview that anatomical differences put women on a different level than their male counterparts.

``Women are handicapped by having boobs,″ Wright said. ``It’s not easy for them to keep their left arm straight, and that’s one of the tenets of the game. Their boobs get in the way.″

Tour golfer Patty Sheehan said it ``was the first time I’ve really thought of my boobs being in the way.″

``He shouldn’t be doing women’s golf if he feels that way,″ said Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez. ``Why doesn’t he talk about all the men on the tour who fool around on their wives?″

Player Amy Alcott said: ``People out here watching the tournament don’t care about what anyone else does in their bedroom.″

Ellen Carton, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in New York, said in a statement that Wright ``seems to be living in another age _ the Stone Age.

``Without America’s lesbian athletes, world-class women’s sports would not exist,″ she said. ``It’s not women’s breasts that get in the way of golfing, it’s Mr. Wright’s ignorance that gets in the way of quality sports broadcasting.″

Wright and his CBS colleagues broadcast the tournament on Thursday for The Golf Channel. He was pulled off coverage Friday morning. It was not clear if Wright would appear on the CBS broadcasts of the weekend rounds.

Wright’s network cohort, Gary McCord, was banned from this year’s Masters tournament for referring to greens as ``bikini waxed.″ In 1988, CBS football analyst Jimmy ``The Greek″ Snyder was fired after making racial comments in a television interview.