I remember growing up and watching college basketball and NFL games with my parents. During those times, I always hoped to see female reporters or female coaches on TV during Monday Night Football or an NCAA tournament game. I wanted to see a woman holding her own at the tables of talking heads. Hell, I wanted to do it myself…I was all about some stats and research on basketball and football. I loved talking UK basketball with my dad (and I still do).
In recent years, I’m thrilled to see this hope become reality (though the talking heads have gotten more annoying than interesting). Slower than it should be, granted, but I’m seeing it more and more. It’s about a person’s love of the game, not their age, gender, what have you. And reinforcing that acceptance is something a lot of young men and women need to see.
I also normally try to give people the benefit of the doubt if they don’t exhibit a pattern of asshole behavior, even when it’s something offensive to women. Some would say I’m not much of a feminist, others would say I need to step it up a notch. But for the most part, a single incident, comment, or action that is disrespectful to women isn’t offensive to me personally, but I understand that it is to others and respect that.
However, this is an exception and it really pisses me off.
Not really because it happened to a woman and the whole closing ranks thing, but hearing that kind of dismissive comment about someone being respectful and asking a genuine question. It could have been about anyone and still be something inappropriate to say. Try it. Try putting another group in for “female” and see how it sounds:
“It’s funny hearing a gay reporter talk about routes.”
“It’s funny hearing a Hispanic reporter talk about routes.”
“It’s funny hearing a teenager reporter talk about routes.”
It’s messed up and dismissive no matter who he was talking about. And this kind of comment needs to be called out because it needs to stop happening. We need to learn how to respect each other regardless…the Golden Rule we try to stress to our children. Treat others as you would want to be treated.
It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s soul-crushing, upsetting, and discouraging to see and hear this kind of attitude in 2017. But in a society where it is easier to ignore other points of view and double down on rationalizing one’s own feelings as truth, you are not going to change a lot of minds in one moment.
Most of the time, the push for humanity to be better and do better feels like you aren’t making any progress at all.
But we have to start somewhere. Dismissing it will not help move us in the right direction. But for those crying out in anger, take a moment and think; we have to show it’s unacceptable in a constructive way instead of stooping down to that same level in retaliation. Either extreme reaction is not productive in changing hearts and minds. Neither is demanding acceptable behavior when you too have made similar mistakes in the past.
UPDATE: He did issue what I think is a sincere apology. After seeing the video, I do think he is finally taking this seriously. And I’m thankful for that.
And you know what? People make mistakes. Try as we might, we can’t teach or learn perfection. The real teachable moment is how to learn from your mistakes and try to do better in the future. THIS is how you be a role model for people.
Should Dannon have dropped him so quickly? I’m not sure. I believe in giving people opportunities to fix their mistakes, but in this case, it may not have started hitting home that this was inappropriate if Dannon hadn’t taken that step.
People have a tendency to never forgive and judge harshly over a brief moment of stupidity. However, ignoring this is not a good reaction either. Perhaps ultimately our goal should be to use this situation to open a conversation with friends, family, and most of all, your kids about respecting others the same way they respect you. Don’t focus on the person who said it. Focus on what was said and why it was unacceptable.