Fox Sports is getting blowback for failing to televise transgender Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the San Francisco Giants’ Pride Day game Saturday, substituting two-day-old footage of a NASCAR driver instead.
The sports channel is a sister company to the conservative Fox News Channel, leading some to wonder if there was transphobia involved, although Fox officials are saying the network simply doesn’t usually air the ceremonial pitches.
The Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the game, which Fox was broadcasting regionally. The Giants and Dodgers both wore caps with their logos in rainbow colors for LGBTQ+ Pride (the umpires sported a Pride insignia as well), and patrons who bought a special ticket package got rainbow socks.
Schneider, who went farther on Jeopardy! than any woman or trans contestant in the show’s history, winning 40 consecutive games, threw out the first pitch while sporting a Giants jersey and a colorful, flouncy skirt. An Oakland resident, she is the first out trans competitor to qualify for the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, which will be held this fall.
But Fox Sports didn’t show her, instead broadcasting footage of NASCAR driver Kyle Busch throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a game that took place Thursday at the Giants’ Oracle Park against the Colorado Rockies. Fox hadn’t televised that game, and its announcers didn’t mention when it happened but used it to promote another event it was broadcasting.
“Kurt Busch threw out the first pitch,” Fox announcer Adam Amin said. “Of course, we’ve got the NASCAR race tomorrow coming up from Sonoma. You’ll see that on the Fox networks.”
Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper objected to the substitution. “Want to make a correction from what I watched yesterday on the Fox broadcast,” he said during the Sunday game. “The broadcast implied that Kurt Busch threw out the first pitch yesterday, which was not true. Kurt Busch threw out the first pitch on Thursday. It was Amy Schneider from Jeopardy! fame who threw out the first pitch on Pride Day yesterday. I just wanted to make sure she got her due.”
NBC News sought comment from Schneider, who issued a statement through Jeopardy! on the honor of throwing out the first pitch without addressing the Fox situation. “As a lifelong baseball fan, just getting the chance to walk out on the field, let alone throw out the first pitch, was a dream come true,” she said. “I also want to state for the record that in my practice session I was getting it over the plate about half the time, so that pitch did not represent the best that I can do!”
She did, however, tweet about the matter.
Others are airing thoughts as well.
Fox, however, says there was no bad intent behind the decision to show Busch instead of Schneider. “On Saturday, as part of a promotional package for the weekend’s NASCAR race in Northern California, we aired a taped first pitch of famed NASCAR driver Kurt Busch,” a Fox Sports spokesman told Bay Area news site SFGate. “This promotion was in no way meant to overshadow the ceremonial first pitch for the game, as it is not routine for us to air.”
Cyd Zeigler, cofounder of LGBTQ+ sports site Outsports, told NBC News he found the Fox decision “stupid” but not necessarily transphobic. The channel did show Pride Day signage, he noted, adding, “Is this some moment of transphobia? No, that’s not how I read it. It’s certainly unfortunate that it happened, and it’s great the announcers the next day talked about it. But I’m not reading this as trying to erase the LGBT community. It’s embarrassing, it’s just stupid.”