Men need to stop discrediting women who understand sports

Corea Parks

When I first heard of Carolina Panthers’ star quarterback, Cam Newton, showing his true colors in a response to a female reporter, I wasn’t in any way surprised.

I was walking into my daytime serving job at Big E’s Sports Grill, heading right toward the bar where all the flat screens hang, when the bartender and very close friend of mine says to me, “Middle TV. Cam Newton told some female reporter that it was funny that she was talking to him about routes.”

My initial thought was, what are routes? Then my second thought was, who cares? You see, at first, before watching the interview for myself, I went right to inadequate public interpretation. I thought maybe he had been joking around and got caught off guard by a camera at the wrong moment. I thought maybe he didn’t mean it in the way it came out because honestly, a lot of these athletes aren’t necessarily stellar public speakers.

So later, after my work shift, I went home and did what I do best: I surfed the web looking for the Cam Newton interview. Then bam! There it was, blatant and in my face. I think I replayed the video about 10 times when I felt an overwhelming sense of shame and disappointment. The shame came from the fact that I, in a way, made excuses for the comments I was told he had said when it was clear as day that he had no respect for women in the football sphere. 

What troubled me most was the alarming reality that this man, along with so many others, was so unaware of his sexism and the sexism in the athletic realm that he was willing to freely express it on national television. 

Let me try to put this in a perspective that may help everyone realize how truly dismantling this can be to us women who take pride in our professions and often work 10 times harder: Imagine a man who has dedicated four years to nursing school, working long hours to make sure he covers everything he needs to succeed in his field.

Imagine the stress and dismay this man may have felt throughout the years every time a woman pursuing the same goals overstepped him because for some reason she was considered more qualified, even though they both had the same credentials. Imagine instead of giving up, this man has continued taking extra steps, covering extra hours until he gets the job he has worked so hard for. 

Now imagine this same man, after completing his bachelor’s degree and having at least a few years’ experience outside of school in the nursing field, is tending to a patient, one with whom he has an established rapport. Then, when he goes to make a statement about the patient’s condition, his female counterpart mockingly laughs and tells him it is funny to hear a man talk about blood pressure. 

Women dominate about 92 percent of the registered nursing jobs in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean a man is incapable of knowing the fundamentals of medicine and nursing.

The point I am trying to make is that even though culturally, due to the historical social structure of the U.S., there are gender norms associated with certain positions, education is accessible to just about everyone in 2017. So, women have the means to obtain just as much information as a man, and vise versa, in any subject you can think of, including sports. 

It should be no surprise that a journalist who happens to be a woman who had been studying football for a number of years knows the terminology of the game. And anyone who is publicly willing to discredit her is a part of the problem of the continuing lack of equity and inclusion in the U.S.

Do I dislike Cam Newton because of the remarks that he has publicly made? No, because if I went down that road, I would have to dislike almost every man in my life. I am, however, disappointed and disheartened by the fact that it is so easy for a man to discredit a woman publicly without batting an eye. It only goes to show how much work needs to be done with shifting these social and cultural norms to reflect the progression and evolution of female roles in society.