There’s always an issue when corporate politics play a factor in sports. That was the case earlier this week with Comcast Sportsnet Chicago, the Chicago Blackhawks, and former Comcast Sports Net Blackhawks’ reporter Susannah Collins.
Before the story is unfolded, the picture needs to be painted. The Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bears, and Chicago Cubs all have ownership interest in Comcast Sportsnet Chicago. Each team has an approximate 20% ownership stake in the Comcast Sportsnet Chicago company. While each of those teams have an ownership stake in the company, the company is the one that hires individual reporters to cover each of those teams. The company is one that has the contract with those reporters.
For the Chicago Blackhawks, Sarah Kustok used to be the team’s beat reporter for CSN Chicago. However, in 2012, Kustok left the company and joined the YES Network to cover the Brooklyn Nets. That would be when the Blackhawks replaced Kustok with former Showtime Sports’ reporter Susannah Collins. Collins’ rise to fame was in large part contributed to the web-series titled “Sports Nutz” in which Collins was a co-anchor for. That series essentially was a parody-style newscast of sporting news with occasional sexual innuendos. Collins was contacted by Showtime Sports after executives from the company caught wind of her work on the web-series. Meaning, the fact that Collins was a part of the web-series was no secret. Collins has been on record as saying that is one of the reasons why she landed the position with Showtime Sports.
Moving beyond Showtime Sports, Collins spent the 2012-2013 NHL season working for Comcast Sportsnet Chicago by covering the Blackhawks. Many Comcast Sportsnet Chicago viewers were impressed with Collins and her coverage of the Blackhawks and looked forward to continued success for Collins and the Blackhawks during the NHL Playoffs. That is when Collins’ success turned into controversy.
Leading into the Blackhawks’ game 1 against the Minnesota Wild, Collins was doing a television spot for the Blackhawks and their preparation for the Playoffs. During that spot, Collins unintentionally said that the Blackhawks had a “tremendous amount of sex during the regular season.” Collins, who correct herself instantly, meant to say that the Blackhawks had a “tremendous amount of success during the regular season.” What followed Collins’ slip of the tongue for the next 24-hours was website after website; news report after news report; and even Jay Leno picking up on Collins’ inadvertent mistake.
Comcast Sportsnet Chicago responded the controversy by firing Collins. The vice president and general manager of CSN Chicago issued a statement about the firing but it was nothing more than the corporate political jargon. CSN Chicago indicated that Collins was not fired because of her on-air remarks, and reports suggest the company fired Collins because of her work with the aforementioned web-series “Sports Nutz.” However, the decision to fire Collins may not have come from CSN Chicago’s management. Instead, as more reports are being pieced together, it appears the Blackhawks were behind Collins’ firing. The reason being the team wanted to protect their image.
Regardless of whether CSN Chicago was behind the firing or if the Chicago Blackhawks were behind it, both parties are at fault. Collins has brought a tremendous amount of success to CSN Chicago in her coverage of the Blackhawks. If the Blackhawks were behind the firing, CSN Chicago should have remained loyal and supportive to one of their top-tier reporters. However, considering the Blackhawks have an ownership interest in CSN Chicago, it’s easy to see why CSN Chicago chose corporate politics over employee loyalty. The real party at fault is the Chicago Blackhawks. The team that has a star in Patrick Kane–who is just as famous for his raunchy conduct off the hockey rink as he is for his performance on it–is now overly sensitive of their image? Since when does a beat reporter reflect the image of the team that they are covering? Apparently, the Blackhawks and CSN Chicago are familiarizing with the image of hypocrites.