While we still have plenty of work to do to ensure sports is truly the bastion of equality and acceptance it should be, one cannot ignore the enormous strides that women have made over the years.
There was once a point in time where the sports realm was virtually entirely male. There was also a point in time where the sports realm was virtually entirely white. The ills that are sexism and racism do happen in sports (unfortunately) to this day and rear their ugly heads in, sometimes the most spectacular of fashions.
Or, simply, the most to the point.
Take for example Matt Walsh, a right-wing political commentator. He is one of the many who likely would have preferred if Black athletes would simply “stick to sports” instead of bringing greater attention to the problems of police brutality and systemic racism in our country and our society.
Walsh apparently does not like it when women come for the takeover in the sports realm – a realm that he believes is better off by being only for men. He was talking about woman sports journalists and this idea that with so many women now reporting sports that the industry is being “feminized.”
Yeah … that really came out of his mouth.
After what Walsh had said on his low-budget, hand-me-down excuse of a radio show, he later doubled down on what he said. Then, he tried to throw a bone by also saying that he believes men have invaded safe spaces for women as well.
There is not getting it – and then there is completely not even trying to get it as is the case with Walsh.
Let us say someone were to confront Walsh on his BS – and actually agree with him to a certain extent. Let us say that every woman who has a job in the sports industry – especially visible jobs such as reporter or color commentator should immediately give up those jobs to a man. Knowing Walsh, he would probably prefer if every one of those men that get those jobs be a white man.
If women are “feminizing” sports, as you say Walsh … does that mean that every single NFL, NBA and NHL team should get rid of either their cheerleading teams, dance teams or ice girls? Does that mean that every single one of those teams should no longer make money off swimsuit calendars they have every year for their cheer, dance or ice teams?
Should college teams also nix their cheer squads? Should the boxing and mixed martial arts industries also get rid of ring girls used to promote (mostly male) fights and fighters?
Knowing how Walsh feels about women participating in sports where they are showcasing their intelligent sides as opposed to being eye candy for cisgender white men, it would probably be a day of mourning in the Walsh household if something like that were to actually happen.
Cheerleaders – especially in the case of the NFL – used to solely exist for only that reason – something for this cisgender men (many of whom are married) to stare at. But even cheerleading teams throughout the NFL have had enough as evidenced by the numerous lawsuits that have been filed by cheerleaders against their respective teams for low pay and sexist treatment (looking at you, Dan Snyder).
Our guess is Walsh’s response would’ve been simply to “shut up and cheer.”
The bottom line is men like Walsh only like the idea of women in sports if those women appeal to the prurient desires of cis men like Walsh. Unfortunately, that is the market that mainstream sports have appealed to for eons without taking into consideration the immense purchasing power (and increasing) that women have over the sports market.
But Walsh – do not be a hypocrite. If women reporters have to go since you say they are feminizing the industry, then the cheerleaders have to go to, right?
Cat got his tongue. In the meantime, let us send Walsh every counseling and therapy service that exists within a 50 mile radius of his studio because it is very obvious his views on women suggest he has a world of healing to do. Let us hope he does that healing.
Here is the really scary thing to remember – Walsh is far from the only insecure man still heartbroken over (possibly) getting rejected by a cheerleader in high school to have this mindset. There are plenty of men who are in high ranking positions in sports boardrooms (and sports newsrooms) who think exactly like Walsh on the issue of women in sports – and they allow this short-sighted and Neanderthalic viewpoint to govern their hiring and investment decisions.
There have been lots of women (especially Black, Brown, Asian, Native American and Muslim women) who have been screwed out of being hired to important decisions in the sports industry solely because they are women. That is why the Rachel Nichols comments about Maria Taylor were so galling because while attempting to say she only got hired to cover the NBA Finals last year because she is Black and that the Finals were taking place against the backdrop of the George Floyd/Breonna Taylor protests, she failed to realize there are lots of male executives that would hire her for her looks and not her (vast) basketball intellect.
It is our job as fans and media who believe that women, in all places of the sports industry, make the sports industry better because of their diverse viewpoint that challenge the norm of sports only being a safe place for the cisgender white male.
It is our job as fans and media to call out and rid the industry of men who think exactly like Walsh do so the sports industry can truly live up to its potential of being the best it can be.
Women belong on the field.
Women belong on the court.
Women belong on the pitch.
Women belong on the diamond.
Women belong on the ice.
Women belong in sports boardrooms.
Women belong in sports TV and radio studios.
Women belong in the executive suite.
Women belong in the broadcast booth as analysts and as lead play-by-play for men’s sports.
Wherever important decisions are being made – not only in sports, but in society – a woman belongs there. PERIOD.
After all – we all came from one.