An ESPN graphic on "ACC Head Coaches Who Happen To Be Black." An ESPN graphic on “ACC Head Coaches Who Happen To Be Black.” (Awful Announcing on Twitter.)

With February being Black History Month, many broadcasters are recognizing Black figures in sports. But the particular title ESPN chose for a graphic during their broadcast of the Virginia Cavaliers-North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball game Saturday drew some criticism. That title? “ACC Head Coaches Who Happen To Be Black.”

The minute-plus of discussion there between play-by-play voice Dave O’Brien and analyst Cory Alexander covers a lot of ground. That includes how that number is the highest percentage of Black head coaches in any Power Five conference, how it keeps rising, and how the ACC has led the way with some diverse hires in the past.

And Alexander does say “We’ll get to a point where we’re not concerned about the color of the coach’s skin and simply that these are very good basketball coaches.” And it’s possible that that line of thinking is what led to the rather unusual title for this graphic. But just “Black ACC Head Coaches” or something would have drawn much less comment than this did. Here’s some of that:

This is yet another example of how important the language used in on-screen graphics can be. The conversation here between O’Brien and Alexander seemed pretty solid, pointing out both the ACC’s past progress on diversity and how more can still be done, and it likely wouldn’t have drawn much comment with a more standard graphic title. But that “ACC Head Coaches Who Happen To Be Black” title on the graphic spread much further than the actual conversation did, and drew a lot of criticism. Graphic mistakes and weird graphic decisions happen, but this is just the latest case of them having a large impact.

[Awful Announcing on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.