Cam Newton’s laughter, I heard it all too well. Nope, I wasn’t at the presser in Carolina. I don’t even cover the NFL. But when he laughed at the Charlotte Observer’s Jourdan Rodrigue’s question on “routes,” it reminded me of the number of times I was disrespected by men in sports. I’ve been winked at by a coach, stared at in lockerrooms and one time bumped in the shoulder when a certain NFLer walked past me when there was more than enough space for him to walk around me. And each time something like that happened I always thought “If I were a man, then they wouldn’t have (fill in the blank.”
ESPN’s Linda Cohn put it best: “Women have to fight for credibility.” You have to be better than good in the world of sports. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been a sports fan my entire life (especially of Chicago sports). I’ve been loving the Bears since birth, celebrated every Bulls championship in the ‘90s, cried when the White Sox won it all in ’05 and was even low-key congratulatory when the Cubbies did it last year. And, good luck to them this year. But I know no matter how much I love a sport, played a sport (lacrosse in high school and college) or covered a sport, I’ll never be taken as seriously as a man.
I’ve heard some male sports journalists say “Just deal with it.” And for the most part we women do. Most of the time we don’t have a choice. We take the winking and the staring and the laughter. But every now and again you don’t want to “just deal with it.” You want an apology. And as late as Newton’s was, it was appreciated.
So, I thank you Cam for the apology. I hope other men will follow your lead. And Jourdan… you did good girl. Thanks for taking one for the team.
Tea recommendation: Lady Grey tea … for all Doris Burkeses, Jackie MacMullenes and Claire Smithes grinding it out among the men everyday.