Don Cherry isn’t speaking for the CBC when he says women have no place in sports locker-rooms, the head of media relations for the public broadcaster said Monday.
But Chuck Thompson says the CBC has no plans to try and discipline him.
Thompson was reacting to the continued flak over Cherry’s comments Saturday on his “Coach’s Corner” segment of “Hockey Night in Canada.”
“Don has many opinions on a wide range of subjects and isn’t shy about expressing them, this past Saturday night being no exception,” said Thompson, verbally repeating almost word-for-word the statement he issued soon after the incident.
“That said, in as much as Don is hired to give hockey-related opinions on ‘Coach’s Corner,’ he speaks for himself and not the CBC.”
Cherry, an often outspoken broadcaster, made the comments while discussing Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith, who delivered what some considered a sexist post-game putdown to a female radio reporter in Vancouver.
Keith has since apologized and said he meant no disrespect to women, but Cherry said he didn’t believe the female reporter should have been allowed in the Blackhawks dressing room.
Thompson repeated that, as far as the CBC is concerned, Cherry’s broadcast partner Ron MacLean provided balance to the discussion when he disagreed.
Opinions on social media and the online comments sections of various newspapers and broadcasters which carried the story appeared split Monday.
Some accused Cherry of being sexist but others agreed with his views and suggested there is a double standard.
“This has to be the first time in my life I have agreed with Cherry on anything,” responded one newspaper reader.
But even some CBC reporters jumped in to criticize Cherry’s comments.
“I’m embarrassed by and for Don Cherry and for CBC. Sorry,” tweeted Vancouver-based CBC sports reporter Karin Larsen soon after the broadcast.
Thompson said the CBC had no problem with that comment either.
“CBC employees are entitled to their own opinions the same way every Canadian is,” he said.
The Association for Women in Sports Media issued a statement saying it was “dismayed and disappointed” by Cherry’s remarks.
“Cherry’s stance that women should not be allowed in hockey locker-rooms is as sexist as it is outdated,” the statement said. “Professional female sports journalists and media relations personnel have been working alongside their male counterparts in NHL locker-rooms for nearly 40 years.”