CNBC Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell wrote yesterday in response to American runner Meb Keflezighi‘s victory in the New York City marathon:
Given our disappointing results, embracing Keflezighi is understandable. But Keflezighi’s country of origin is Eritrea, a small country in Africa. He is an American citizen thanks to taking a test and living in our country.
Nothing against Keflezighi, but he’s like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league.
The post drew criticism online and Henry Blodget at Business Insider called the sentiment “seriously disturbing.” The New York Times even pointed to the blog posting in its report on the “sports dispute [that] erupted online, fraught with racial and nationalistic components.”
Now, Rovell has apologized for the comment, writing, “Let me be clear: Meb Keflezighi is an American and any suggestion otherwise is wrong.” He also wrote:
It turns out, Keflezighi moved to the United States in time to develop at every level in America. So Meb is in fact an American trained athlete and an American citizen and he should be celebrated as the American winner of the NYC Marathon. That makes a difference and makes him different from the “ringer” I accused him of being. Meb didn’t deserve that comparison and I apologize for that.