As a female sports podcaster, who is trying desperately to make it in the world of sports broadcasting I feel compelled to speak up about the circumstances surrounding the Cam Newton incident yesterday.
Do I think it was wrong of him and that he should know better? Yes, Absolutely! Am I mad at him or do I feel disrespected by what he said? No.
Jumping to judgments and being angry at things does not solve the problem. Lets separate the fact that he is an NFL QB from the fact that he is a man making a perceived sexist comment.
I have been doing my podcast for well over a year now, and guys are still surprised and even somewhat dumbfounded by my passion for and knowledge of sports. I hear a lot of “Wow” “That’s so cool” and even the occasional “I’m impressed by how much you really know about sports.” Here’s the thing, it has become common place for women to be interested in sports, but there are still plenty of women that are just content wearing a jersey and cheering for a particular team without knowing what’s actually happening on the field, court, ice, etc. Instead of being mad at someone who is surprised or finds it funny that I as a woman probably know more about sports than they do, I realize that a lot of the time it is simply a lack of experience or just naivety on their part.
It is absurd to believe that the world will grow and evolve all at the same time. What happens is that while some of us (men, women, black, or white) have decided to break away from gender roles and societal norms, others have not. It creates pockets of ignorance due to a lack of exposure to a world that has evolved beyond black and white, and is now a constantly changing color wheel of options and choices for everyone in it.
It should not be surprising that not all men or women for that matter have been exposed to women that feel compelled to report and analyze a sport that has predominantly been ruled by testosterone and where any sign of estrogen means weakness. We as a society have to become open to the idea of acting instead of reacting. Instead of addressing this as sexism and reacting with anger, realize it is a learning opportunity. It is a chance to expose more people to something that might be out of the norm that is their life.
I realize I made this vague, but I did it intentionally, because like sexism, racism will obviously not end over night. The answer to ending both is eliminating ignorance through education and exposure. Moments like this present us with opportunities to expose the next generation to the ever-evolving world around them. Take the opportunity to educate the person by exposing them to other things outside of their comfort zone. It requires a willingness and acceptance from both parties involved. Removing the anger is the first step to creating a bridge that opens communications. The first question should be “why is that funny?” If the response to that is sexist, you have my blessing to get frustrated, but if it is one of ignorance, make the most of this learning opportunity.
Now to Cam Newton, the NFL quarterback. He has no excuse to make such a comment to any reporter that has the credentials to be in the pressroom at an NFL stadium. Jourdan Rodrigue is a credible journalist who has earned the right to be there and ask practically any question she so desires. Now maybe Cam has not been exposed to women that take such an interest in sports in his personally life, but he most definitely has in his professional life. Cam is in his 7th season in the NFL, and women reporters and analysts are an integral part of NFL coverage on a daily basis. Ultimately he is not a bad guy. He is just a guy that said a dumb thing, and unfortunately for him, his celebrity means he will get crucified for it.
Since it does not appear that anyone asked Cam, why a woman asking him about routes was funny, I do not know if he is sexist or just ignorant.