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George Ferguson Column: Wake up guys, there's nothing funny about being a sexist

From the Fringe...


October 10, 2017

Occasionally, I like to make a mountain out of a mole hill. That’s what happens sometimes when you’re highly-opinionated, which I readily admit I am.

So forgive me if I’m doing it again now, but, as always, there’s a method to my madness.

Last week, Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton made what many considered a sexist remark to a female reporter who, by all accounts, was literally just doing her job.

Basically what happened was the reporter asked Newton about one of his receivers running good routes. No, there was no line of controversial questioning or scandalous scenarios in the press conference that day, just a female reporter asking the team’s star quarterback about good route running.

Newton eventually answered the question but not before he took a jab at the reporter by laughing, rolling his eyes, looking directly at her and telling her it was funny to hear a woman talk about routes.

Of course, social media was torn in two by the comments. Many thought the remark was extremely insensitive and unnecessary and that Newton belittled a reporter for literally just doing her job. Others, many men, of course, and a lot of athletes, of course, thought the remarks were no big deal and Newton didn’t do anything wrong.

If you're in the latter group — you couldn’t be more wrong, in my opinion.

Yes, athletes get tired of us, the media. Yes, they don’t always enjoy doing interviews and press conferences, and yes, high-profile stars like Newton grow wary from always being in the media’s eye. I don’t deny any of that.

But in this particular case, the female reporter was asking a positive question to Newton about one of his teammates. Why the need to be a jerk? The answer is pretty simple in my estimation. Some guys just can’t help themselves.

For me, however, it goes deeper. There is, and has been, an obvious resentment from male athletes toward female members of the media. It’s been going on for decades, and Newton’s little crack last week just goes to show that times haven’t changed. In other words, some men still don’t think women are worthy of covering them in their chosen profession, and on top of that, they don’t think that woman could possibly be knowledgeable enough to speak on their game.

Wrong again.

I know plenty of women who can school anybody else I know on the game of football. I know women who know just as much about basketball as any man I know. I could go on and make a case for women being knowledgeable about every sport I care about, but I don’t need to. You get the point.

Sorry, Cam, but there are women out there, and plenty of them, who know and understand football, even the intricacies and details of the sport. For you to be surprised by that just shows how oblivious you are to women in the first place.

If that reporter's knowledge of routes made you laugh, it proves there’s a pretty big flaw in your character, at least when it comes to women and sports.

In our profession, some of the best reporters I follow these days are women. They are good writers, they are intense and methodical about their beats, and they show a heightened enthusiasm for what they do. In other words, in sports journalism a lot of women out there are doing an incredible job covering major sports, and they know their stuff — and if anyone is surprised to read that, then that shows a pretty big character flaw in you as well, and it continues to prove that sexism in this country, at least in the world of sports, hasn’t changed as much as we would like to think, or hoped it has.

In fact, it’s kind of sad that in 2017 I feel the need to write a column about sexism in sports and sports journalism. Actually, it’s not just sad, it’s ridiculous. But Cam Newton showed the other day it certainly still exists.

Now he, of course, has apologized, and I know deep down, he didn’t mean to insult anybody. But he did. That's the bottom line.

He actually insulted not only all women who are in the profession of sports journalism, but in my opinion, he pretty much insulted the intelligence of all women who enjoy sports — including my wife.

Yes, that’s where this took me the most. I realized, again, after Newton’s comments, how lucky I am to be married to who I am. Amy doesn’t just put up with how crazy of a sports nut I am, she doesn’t just tolerate it, she has embraced it. She’s now a sports nut herself. And she can school plenty of people I know on Griz’ football, the Chicago Cubs, golf and tennis and a host of other sports, as well. For that, I’m grateful and lucky to be married to her. I love how much she loves sports.

So for her, for my mom, who is also extremely knowledgeable and who is someone I learned a lot about sports from when I was young, I was offended by Newton’s little act the other day. And for all the women in sports media, I was offended for them, too. Bottom line, Cam's little laugh, I didn't think it was one bit funny.

Now, was it the worst thing I've seen lately? No. We all know the world has a lot of problems right now. No denying that. But after how Newton acted the other day, it looks like sexism is still one of those problems, sadly.


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