Surprising? No. Disappointing? Yes.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton made an ignorant remark to a female reporter at a news conference on Oct. 4 stating, “I think it’s funny to hear a female talk about routes,” after the reporter asked him a question about how he felt about wide receiver Devin Funchess embracing the physicality of routes.
What was more concerning than his comment was the motion of his head and the cringing of his face when the reporter uttered the word “route,” as if she was speaking above her knowledge level.
Newton’s ignorant remark and expression made its way out the news conference room and circulated into the social media world. The issue however revealed a deeper dilemma than just the choice of words he used.
His remark and reaction towards Panthers beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue not only singled her out from everyone else in the press conference room, but it was condescending and belittling. To say that it is funny for a female to talk about routes questioned her qualification and competence as a female in a male-dominated environment, to be standing in the presence of 2015 MVP and three time Pro Bowler NFL quarterback, with a football related question.
Many people, particularly men, have tried to dismiss and justify his comment by assuming that he was simply surprised that a female was talking about football. However, Rodrigue’s job description as a beat reporter is to write, talk, and cover football. With Cam Newton on the lectern taking press interview questions, what kind of question was Newton expecting from Rodrigue to ask if her asking a football related question threw him off guard? Note, this is Newton’s seventh season in the NFL. This was certainly not the first female reporter he has encountered.
The concerning issue about the controversial remark revealed his heart on the issue, along with the heart of many men. His ignorant comment encompassed all women, not only reporters. The outrage from women over this issue is not a feminist Nazi movement looking to attack male athletes or to try and prove that women can do everything men can do. In fact, men can do things women can’t do, and women can do things men can’t do, and this can be backed up by biological science; however the issue here is the oppression women face every day discrediting and undervaluing them in their area of expertise for the simple fact that they’re women. Newton’s comment was only a scratch to the surface of a deeper issue that men are incognizant to.
White men and women are not a target for racial oppression or discrimination in America, so it would be foolish to dismiss what a black man or woman has to say about racial injustice because we chose to hear out the white man’s opinion instead.
Misogyny as well is a form of oppression, that many women face. Women were the recipients of the offensive comment Newton made. Yet men, who are not targets of this issue, choose to speak on behalf of women to say that women are overreacting and stretching the issue.
The industry is filled with male sportswriters, commentators, reporters, etc, who have not once stepped foot on a field as an athlete at the professional level, such as Skip Bayless, Rich Eisen, Scott Van Pelt, whose credibility is hardly questioned. What does a male sportscaster with no athletic experience differ from a female sportscaster?
It wasn’t until 1975 that women even had a role in network sports broadcasting. Women such as Phyllis George, Jayne Kennedy, Pam Oliver, Doris Burke, and several others paved the way to create a breakthrough for women in sports network broadcasting.
However, Google search “female sports broadcaster” and one will quickly understand that this article is not just written by a hormone driven, emotional female aggressively typing away on her keyboard. The bulk of the search results will give you articles such as “Top 10 Hottest Female Sportscasters,” “Top 10 Sexiest Female sportscasters of 2017.” Not one of these results commended or praised a woman for her career accomplishments and her insightful knowledge.
Regardless of the unnecessary barricades women are required to overcome, women continue to break through the male dominated industry validating their professionalism everyday with prowess and intuitive knowledge in their career field.
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