YMCA in Wisconsin bans cable news in fitness area

Credit: Ethan Miller

Credit: Ethan Miller

A YMCA in Wisconsin has blocked cable news on the televisions in its gym, citing chronic verbal harassment among members over politics, WISN reported.

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"(I) can't watch any national news because someone might get upset," Jim Hennelly, who works out at the YMCA in Stevens Point, told the television station.

"It hit a nerve with me, you know? Hey, I'm just a guy walking in off the street. I'm not drunk, I'm quiet," Hennelly, 80, told WISN. "I do my stuff, and I can't watch a national news station. Huh? Is that censorship or what?"

Joe Seubert, associate executive director at the Stevens Point YMCA, told the Stevens Point Journal that members still watch whatever programs are available on the television monitors attached to cardio machines. However, Seubert told the newspaper that "we did censor some of those stations" on the larger TVs mounted on the wall.

After being away from the YMCA for several months because of a sprained foot, Hennelly returned recently and found out about the ban.

"I said, 'Can I watch CNN?' And they said 'No.' I said, 'OK, how about Fox?' And the girl was nice, but she said 'You can't watch any national news broadcast,'" Hennelly told the Journal.

While Hennelly was away, the YMCA instituted the ban after a confrontation between two members, the newspaper reported.

"We just simply took off the news. ... For consistency and not to take sides, we eliminated the news stations," Seubert told the Journal. "All local channels are still available."

That reasoning did not satisfy Hennelly.

"That's like me going in there to watch Green Bay and the Bears are on, and screaming 'Turn those damn Bears off!," Hennelly told the Journal. "It's crazy."

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