Sunday, July 27, 2014

ESPN & the NFL Continue to Insult Women... But We Keep Watching

By Heidi Leach (@heidileach)

This Ray Rice ordeal has caused quite a stir. 

A two-game suspension for punching your fiancee? Hmmm. 

Everyone has an opinion. Either it’s an appropriate punishment, or it’s not even close. People are entitled to their thoughts so I’ll go ahead and throw in my two cents as well.

You see, I happen to be a woman and, personally, I do not think that two games is enough of a punishment. Players doing copious amounts of drugs or shooting themselves in the leg have seen much, much worse, and they only hurt themselves. But punching a woman hard enough to knock her out, then dragging her limp body out of an elevator does not warrant the same? 

Even before the consequences were revealed I heard many defending Rice. “He was drunk.”  Well, duh. I should hope so. However, I say that argument is a pile of crap.  I have seen A LOT of drunk guys in my almost-30 years. I did my undergrad in South Carolina, my grad school in Boston, I am a journalist, and I have worked in the restaurant industry. So very many drunk people have been before my eyes. 

Do you know what’s amazing? Of all of those drunk men who have graced my presence, not even one, has ever punched me. Crazy, right? Not. One. 

I have been watching, writing, and talking about the NFL long enough to know that whatever the punishment was, it probably would not fit the crime. Ray Rice is one of the league’s more high-profile players. He generates money for them. The bottom line is more important than justice. 

I’m used to it.

Do I still watch football in spite of it? You betcha. 

I contribute to the problem. I know I do and I can still sleep at night. Let’s be honest, sports are an incredibly corrupt business, but we all still love them and continue to spend time and a ton of money on them. If you are the one person who says you’re done with them after one of the leagues does something like this, good for you, but I hope you are aware you are accomplishing squat. 

It is unfortunate, but it’s the truth.

The reason this situation really ticked me off is what is going on now. A friend was talking to me in reference to the aftermath and actually said that they don’t know if they could be a woman in this business. I laughed, but it made me think. 

Now, I have never liked Stephen A. Smith. He’s always rubbed me the wrong way, and I just think he seems like a huge jerk, but he took it to a new level this week. When you go on national TV and say that women need to learn to not provoke the situation, you sound like that political blowhard who said that women who dress a certain way are asking to get raped.

Someone tell Smith he’s making himself look like a radically conservative, old, white guy. Maybe then he’ll realize he is an idiot. 

I am not saying that women are always innocent and sweet. I AM saying that no one deserves to be knocked out, even if they were acting like a you-know-what. If Ronda Rousey knocked her boyfriend out and dragged him out of an elevator I would be saying the same thing. It is not ok, and no one is asking for that. 

I guess it does suck a little being a woman in the sports industry. I have thick skin but I have heard some pretty awful stuff. Luckily, I really love a good argument and the good always outweighs the bad. For every player of questionable integrity there is another who renews your hope in society. 

The Ravens have Ray Rice, but they also have Torrey Smith. 

It’s the same in the sports journalism world. For every Stephen A. Smith there is someone else who doesn’t make you want to throw things at your television. People are still going to watch football (I certainly will). People are still going to watch First Take (I won’t but I never really did to begin with). The world goes on. 

Until people stop being jerks we are just going to have to deal with this kind of stuff, so just focus on the good. You might have to turn off your TV to find it though.

No comments :