Monday, October 9, 2017

Thank you Cam Newton

While sports talk radio, social media and the Twittersphere has condemned Cam Newton for his comment directed at Jourdan Rodrigue a female sports reporter, I want to thank him. In a postgame interview, Rodrigue said,  “I know you take a lot of pride in seeing your receivers play well. Devin Funchess has really seemed to embrace the physicality of his routes and getting those extra yards. Does that give you a little bit of enjoyment to see him kind of truck-sticking people out there?” Rather than answer the question, the Carolina Panthers' starting QB  responded with a comment that it not only offensive and off-putting, it cost him a number of sponsorships (Dannon yogurt). Newton, a former league MVP smiled and said, "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes. It's funny." It's not funny....but I'm still glad he said it. 
The public's response has been one of disgust and disappointment. Rodrighe said that Newton "not only belittled me but countless other women before me and beside me who work in similar jobs." She is right. If one is unsure whether or not a comment is "sexist," this qualifies. Whether or not a person can and does talk about routes does should not be equated with whether or not they are male or female. Though Newton's intention was to compliment Ms. Rodrigue, his missive fell flat. His words were short-sighted and preumptuous. He regrets saying them and he should....but...what he said needed to be said and heard. Why? Because they have afforded the public with an important lesson. 

I believe a lot of men agree with what Cam Newton said. I also think a lot of women do too. I believe a lot of women think it's funny or weird when other women talk about sports. I know because I hear those responses at varying degrees quite often, the worst of which is when friends advise me not to talk about sports on a date. They have said, "Men don't like it when women talk about sports." to which I can only respond, "so you're telling me to talk about something I really care about. I can't do that." Assuming good will, they have probably met men that feel this way! Newton's offensive comment has allowed women who love sports to share similar experiences. 
However, just as a society should not judge a woman who wants to talk about pass protection, the I-formation on the field and physicality, so too should we not shun a man who doesn't. If a man doesn't like sports, and I know plenty of them, I hope others would not find that "funny" either. 
We all carry presumptions—to say otherwise is misguided. I don't think all assumptions are meant to be mean-spirited, sexist or inappropriate. For example, if you were to look at the principal of the school where I teach, you would never guess he speaks Mandarin. When he joined my class on our Urban Plunge to St. Anthony's in the Tenderloin a number of my students heard for themselves what Mr. Ruff studied in college. As they were giving out canned goods to seniors, he greeted a number of these patrons in their native tongue. All parties were nourished in the giving....and I dare say, surprised too. Yes, we ought to be cautious and consider what we assume to be true about anyone. When we do, we must share our thoughts with discretion, kindness, and respect. At our best, perhaps we can seek to open ourselves to the unique gifts and abilities of each individual person.
49ers WR coach Katie Sowers
The movie "Battle of the Sexes" aimed to teach the public about how far women have come. Football is no exception. Today, women are members of ownership groups (take for example the Williams sisters. Venus and Serena are partial owners of the Miami Dolphins). Women are very popular as side-line reporters. The NFL now has female referees. The 49ers even have a female Wide Receivers coach; it's her JOB to talk about routes. No longer are women confined to the sidelines as cheerleaders (why are there male cheerleaders in college but not in the pros?), but they are contributing as faithful fans and followers and some are even playing the game. And this month you'll see a lot of men and women on the field wearing pink, and that's not funny either. The League's support of Breast Cancer awareness is remarkable. They're working on other issues too....

Photo Credits
Female Ref
49ers Coach

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