“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations. Due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.” – Truman Capote
I would like to start a conversation. I have been biting my tongue on this all day (actually for a while now), but I could no longer hold it in. I would welcome your intelligent and well-formed opinions. Please do not try to make a joke out of this. I and others will likely not find it funny. Because it is not funny.
Today, I heard someone (a male) make the following comment (to a female) about the Super Bowl. “That game must have been so boring for you.” Now, I could have been wrong, but his tone sounded quite contrived. As if he really should have said, “You poor thing, how did you ever stand watching a game that you know nothing about when there really was not much excitement in the score?” (As an aside, the truth of the matter is that it was not really a riveting game for anyone that was not a Seahawks fan and/or supporter.)
However, this dug at a deeper issue for me that I have witnessed time and time again over the years–the fact that many (note, I did not say ALL) men devalue women in general, and in particular, their knowledge of sports.
This reared its ugly head around the time go the announcement of the new College Football Playoff Selection Committee. Rumors swirled before the official announcement that Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, an avid Stanford Cardinal fan, was among those likely to be selected. While the rumors swirled, so did the unintelligent comments. Among those who openly criticized her for her stance was ESPN analyst and former NFL linebacker, David Pollack. His comments drew national attention when he stated that a woman did not belong on the committee. Others stated that she did not belong because she had never played the game.
I have been in the locker rooms or around players who have made comments that women know nothing about sports. I have watched games where women have shared their thoughts and been brushed off because they “have no idea what they are talking about” or “just don’t get it.” I have watched women’s games where comments are made that this is not a real sport. We have all witnessed the female sideline reporters being mocked or told that they add nothing to a broadcast–that they are just there to look pretty.
I thought that Pollack’s ESPN co-host, Samantha Ponder (also, one of the aforementioned sideline reporters) summed it up best in her response to Pollack’s comments on the Condoleezza Rice situation, when she said, “I respect his right to be wrong.”
I have grown up around strong and independent women. I am also extremely blessed to date one now. They are not only successful and intelligent in their careers, but they are also intelligent sports fans. Some of my best female friends are former athletes. I learn something from each of these women regularly when we have conversations about sports, which I often have as well.
I could not begin to fathom that some of the things that I have heard male athletes say would be said to their mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, daughters.
What makes us think this is alright to do? Where are we hearing this narrative? Why are we repeating it?
I know you think you are being funny. I know you think it may make you look cool around your friends. I know you think it is just being manly. But, you are wrong.
I have grown tired of the “jokes” about women belonging in the kitchen or needing to make you a sandwich. I have grown tired of the t-shirts that put women down. I have grown tired of the entire direction that this whole narrative has gone and continues to go.
It is not funny. It is not cool. It is not manly. Do you want someone treating your daughter like this? I highly doubt it. When you do this, your son hears it, your brother hears it, then thinks it is ok. Is this what you want to be responsible for teaching him? I also highly doubt it.
Let’s start the conversation. And let’s change the narrative.
Bring your best today!
P.S. I recognize that this comes across as an all-out blitz on men and male athletes. That is not my intention. But, I do believe it is a large and important enough issue that it deserves to be discussed. It is also something that can and should be improved upon across the board. If you are already doing your part, then I applaud you and encourage you to stand up and be intolerant when you hear others make these comments.