When we typically discuss companies coming to blows with content control (aka censorship), the stories tend to be about what would otherwise be obscure wrong-doings going viral on a national or international level. Major automakers concocting horrible advertising around suicide, for instance. Or multi-state bus companies learning that bathroom-ing on their customers isn't the best practice and catching the resulting backlash. But the practice of shining the light on yourself by being overly protective of your brand doesn't only happen at the macro level, it can have a local effect as well.
That's the lesson the Chicago Blackhawks are learning right this very minute. If you're not in Chicago, you probably haven't heard of Susannah Collins, who reports for Comcast Sports Net on the Blackhawks. In fact, if you know who she is at all, it's probably from this line of low-brow comedy videos that she produced on YouTube. While some of those videos are likely NSFW, there is nothing more racy in them than a bit of colorful language and suggestive talk. It's about as harmless as it gets. That is, of course, unless you're the Chicago Blackhawks who, for reasons that make absolutely zero sense, decided that those videos surfacing were cause to five-hole Collins' career and have her fired.
In a letter to the Vice President/General Manager of Comcast Sports Net Chicago, team chairman Rocky Wirtz demanded that reporter Susannah Collins be removed immediately, citing his awareness of comedy videos made years earlier that he found “incredibly offensive to a number of audiences, going well beyond professional athletes.”
He only learned of them after her innocent, unfortunate slip of the tongue last week brought them back to the fore, but it didn’t matter to Wirtz. Although they had been a fully disclosed non-issue upon her hiring, they became instant, retroactive reason for a swift dismissal.
The locals in Chicago were immediately upset over the firing. Certainly part of the reason for the animosity is the silliness of firing a reporter over sketch comedy videos she did on YouTube years ago
. But, in true bad PR fashion, the real anger comes over the team's almost epic level of hypocrisy. You see, Wirtz cited the video's offensiveness as the reason for asking CSN (which is owned by several local Chicago teams, including the Blackhawks) to fire Collins. This, from the same team that has young women in tiny outfits shoveling up ice shavings between periods during games. This from a team that plays a sport in which fans will cheer on two grown men committing assault upon one another and then have the nerve to call it "part of the game."
But the real fun comes with the magnifying glass now being placed squarely on the team's official "ambassador," Bobby Hull. The article linked above is one of several that makes the point nicely.
Hull’s second wife, Joanne, whom he wed in 1960 and divorced in 1980, told an ESPN documentary in 2002 that she “took a real beating” at his hands. She described an incident during which Hull “threw me in the room, and just proceeded to knock the heck out of me. He took my shoe – with a steel heel – and proceeded to hit me in the head. I was covered with blood. And I can remember him holding me over the balcony, and I thought this is the end, I’m going.” She filed to end the marriage in 1970 after several more incidents, but they reconciled until Hull threatened her with a loaded shotgun in 1978. Their daughter, Michelle, also described his pattern of behavior to “Sports Century,” and she now works as an attorney specializing in domestic violence.
Should you think this was a one-time minor indiscretion of old-fashioned domestic abuse, Hull's second wife complained of similar treatment, Hull was later convicted for trying to punch a police officer, oh, and there was that one time he was all warm and fuzzy
about freaking Hitler
But, hey, I guess if there aren't any YouTube videos, it never happened, amirite? That is, until your unreasonableness turns the magnifying glass back on you and now you have an entire city calling for the head of your so-called "ambassador."