Sexism in the world of sports

Haiden Widener, Campus Carrier Social Media Director

Last week during a press conference following the Carolina Panthers win over the New England Patriots, Cam Newton was asked a simple question by a female reporter, but his response was not so simple. 

Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer was curious about one of Newton’s wide receivers, asking, “Devin Funchess has seemed to really embrace the physicality of his routes and getting those extra yards, does that give you a little bit of enjoyment to see him truck sticking people out there?” 

While Cam did respond to the question thoroughly, he first laughed and said, “it’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.” 

This comment was not only plain stupid, but sexist. Here’s why: 

Rodrigue has been reporting on the Panthers for over a year, meaning she is not a random woman off of the street, thrown into a press conference. Sports reporting, and more specifically football reporting, is her profession, it is what she specializes in and what she gets paid to do. 

The fact that she knows simple football terms like “routes” should not be surprising to anyone, it is a part of her job. 

Secondly, if a male reporter would’ve asked the exact same question, Newton would’ve answered it without blinking an eye. That is where sexism comes into play. 

The male reporter could know less about football than Rodrigue, he could be a random man off of the street that hasn’t ever watched a football game and was given the question to ask Newton would not have laughed. He would have thought it was funny he assumes all men know about football. 

He laughed at Rodrigue simply because she is a woman, and he had no faith that she was knowledgeable in her career field. 

This issue is not a specific Cam Newton issue, he just happened to be the one to slip up in the press conference. This is an issue with a majority of men in the sports world. 

As a woman majoring in sports management, I am one of few women in my classes, I know that I will have to fight for a respected position within the sports industry simply because the industry is male dominant, and a lot of men underestimate women’s knowledge in the field. 

It is 2017. Women hold a lot of positions within the NFL and other sports-related companies. They have degrees in things like sports management and sports communications; of course they are knowledgeable in football. 

Of the 32 NFL teams, 16 teams have a woman running their social media platforms. They are expected to know all football lingo and be able to knowledgeably talk about the game to fans through social media. Assuming that women who work in sports do not, or cannot understand football in this day and age is ignorant. 

Men defending Cam’s comment on social media were acting like football is rocket science, and that it is impossible for women to know the word “routes.” Sports are no longer a foreign language to women so men need to stop acting like they are.

While Cam’s comment was absolutely degrading, I am glad he made it so that conversations like this one are able to occur, and people are able to see the sexist issues that still occur within the sports industry.

It brings to light how under appreciated and underestimated women are in their sports professions, and for that, I am thankful for Cam Newton’s ignorance. 

Leave a Reply