It's appropriate that we were writing about the 1956 plane crash that killed five Canadian football stars earlier today, as it's unfortunately made the news again. Dean "Boomer" Molberg, a morning show host at The FAN 960 in Calgary, said on the air Wednesday that he hoped the Saskatchewan Roughriders' plane would crash ahead of their weekend playoff game against Calgary and their players would die. While Molberg wasn't directly referencing the 1956 crash, the implications quickly arose for many; four of the five players killed in that crash, which was spotlighted in a TSN documentary that aired last weekend, were members of the Roughriders. Molberg has since apologized both on the air (Saskatchewan broadcaster Rod Pedersen transcribed that part here) and in a letter posted on the radio station's website. Here's part of what he wrote:
I'm writing this letter of apology in regards to the unacceptable comments towards the Saskatchewan Roughriders I made during our morning show on Sportsnet 960 The FAN on Wednesday, November 7th.
It was an attempt at being funny, which in the end was neither funny nor appropriate. Not even close. It was clearly not thought out, for if it was I'd have never said it. There is no excuse for it, and I'm not in any way looking to defend my actions. This was in no way, shape or form a ratings ploy or an attempt to garner attention to myself or the radio station. I made a mistake.
I would like to firstly apologize to the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club, staff, players and family and fans. My comments are no doubt troubling to you all, and as someone who has a young family myself, I hope you can understand the regret I have for saying them. I made a huge error in judgment and very sincerely wish no harm to any of you. We are all appreciative of the rivalry that exists between these two clubs, and I unfortunately made a terrible choice in an attempt to add fuel to it.
FAN 960 program director Kelly Kirch has apologized as well, and Stampeders' president Lyle Bauer chimed in with a statement calling the comments inappropriate. It's good that the station's addressed this and that Molberg in particular has delivered such a detailed apology, and it's easy enough to understand how this happened; there's an intense rivalry between the Stampeders and Roughriders (and between Alberta and Saskatchewan in general), and in an environment like radio, it's easy to say something quickly without really considering how it will be perceived. However, while rivalries are all well and good, wishing for anyone's death is way over the top, and the plane crash comments in particular are extremely insensitive given the club and league history involved. There's no need for people to start calling for Molberg's head, but he and media commentators everywhere should learn from this; stoking the rivalry flames is all well and good, but there are lines you don't cross, and this is one of them.