Why hello all you good readers,
Like most writers, I love gushing about and eulogizing baseball. It’s a sport which confidently woos romance and sentimentality, qualities which only seem to consistently hang out on Instagram these days. Believe me, I have all the feelings when I start opining about myself and America’s greatest invention.
But forreal, the first seeds of Foul and Fair came from my Giants grief on my Xanga account and later processing the Giants’ 2010 World Series win from study abroad. These entries became my first foray into sportswriting and most assuredly built my confidence to pontificate about this world as you read now on F&F. Anyway, go on now and read about the misogyny and backstabbing radio show host that really jumpstarted this whole thing. And then let’s chat.
Leadoff Hitter: Longform that lays off the first pitch.
Full disclosure: the author attended this game after her former colleague at a commercial real estate firm offered her free tickets. She does not cheer for the Mets or the Braves although at least six of her internet and IRL friends love either and she usually just feels sorry for them. Go Giants.
Several years ago, one of my favorite hometown radio personalities had some words for women. In the aftermath of the world learning of Miami Dolphins’ Ritchie Incognito racially-tinged bullying, then-KNBR’s Damon Bruce cleared his throat andwent off. Courtesy of Deadspin:
- A lot of sports has lost its way, and I'm gonna tell you, part of the reason is because we've got women giving us directions. For some of you, this is going to come across as very misogynistic. I don't care, because I'm very right.
- There is a serious group of you fellas out there that have just been so feminized by the sensitive types out there who continue to now interject their ultra-feminine sensitive opinions into the world of sports.
- I enjoy many of the women's contributions to the sports—well that's a lie [laughing]. I can't even pretend that's true. There are very few—a small handful—of women who are any good at this at all. That's the truth. The amount of women talking in sports to the amount of women who have something to say is one of the most disproportionate ratios I've ever seen in my life. But here's a message for all of them … All of this, all of this world of sports, especially the sport of football, has a setting. It's set to men.
- This is guy's stuff. This is men's stuff. And I don't expect women to understand men's stuff anymore than they should expect me to be able to relate to labor pains.
Bruce’s opinions stung. Being his fan had already meant tolerating a higher level of sexist innuendo and references than I would have permitted in my friendships. But, like all women who enjoy sports, I rationalized. Bruce’s opinions fell on the entertaining edge of caustic and his takes bombastic. He rarely blathered for hours like most talk show hosts, instead crafting recurring and goofy segments: the Nooner, the Tuesday Trifecta. But was he not for me? Had he never been?
With few outlets for my anger, I turned to my blog.
“I, for one, believe that women’s foray into the professional and collegiate sports arena has obviously changed the world–whether from a perception or implementation level,” I wrote in 2013. “While Bruce, as a male, may see his world intruded upon by people who may actually call out his kingdom about its propensity towards boorish, vicious, sexist and juvenile behavior, I welcome them.”
“Women’s mere presence challenges all of those tiny little assumptions we make about injuries, contracts, salaries, rivalries, clubhouses, offensive lines, defensive lines, bullpens, starting fives, locker rooms, huddles, and high-fives,” I continued. “Regardless of whether the questions they’ve posed inside the locker room are ones that have sought a revolution, or even a reformation, they’ve made men self-conscious of their culture, of its boorish, vicious, sexist, and juvenile behavior, andisn’t self-awareness where change catalyzes?”
Yes. Also it’s complicated. But part of the answer is indeed yes.
In my post, I primarily addressed the role of female reporters and commentators andthe efficacy of their presence. But today, it’s worth discussing the impact of women more broadly. Although I’m a journalist, sports aficionado, and most relevantly, a writer here at Foul and Fair, I don’t see myself as part of sports media. It’s a role I associate with learning the underbelly of coaches, players, and wives, jettisoning fandom, and accepting and explaining the role that financials play in operating the business formerly known as your team.
Instead, I see myself as renegotiating the terms of what it means to be a fan. Let me explain. The NBA’s recent decision to allow advertisements on uniforms reminded me yet again that my primary identity in the sports world does not stem primarily from my race or gender but rather the reality that I am a consumer. Sports asks for my attention but it truly craves my money.
And whether it’s baseball—or some years—the US Open, I haven’t been afraid of hitting up StubHub or the ticket office and paying for product. I’ve stayed up late countless nights for baseball games and do my despairing tennis tweets count as performance art? I digress.
One of the joys of Foul and Fair, then, has been to disrupt the constraints of the consumer relationship. In this context, sports has little space for the diversity offered by my racial background and gender. (Seriously, they only want your money people.) I consistently garner male surprise by my array of informed sports opinions, but most of those relationships have transitioned into spaces where we primarily view each other as fellow enthusiasts. (Also, they offer me free tickets. But I digress.) But through my site and the creative process it demands of me, I have built my table andensured my place at it. In that way, sports ceases to only allow itself to chisel away at me. Instead, I can draw my knife too.
I felt some of the power when I emailed Damon Bruce in 2013, months before his meltdown, and confronted him about his misogyny. I channeled it again a couple weeks ago when I tweeted with Yahoo! Sports writer Jeff Passan about learning Spanish. And then last week I attended an event headlined by Cubs GM andmanager Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon respectively and inquired the following:Given baseball’s growing linguistic and ethnic diversity, what steps has your organization taken to ensure that all voices are heard from A-ball to the Majors?
I’m grateful for all of those aforementioned touchstones—the latter two no doubt fueled by the spirit of Foul and Fair. But I’m even more thankful for this roject, because I don’t want to be an armchair critic when I can create art.
Delay of Game: All you can read before the clock expires.
Too Curt. ESPN anchor and former Red Sox ace pitcher Curt Schilling did something, that's for sure, again. This time, transgender people were the targets of his latest social media post. They aren’t the first:
- November 21, 2014: Curt Schilling takes on police-community relations in Ferguson, MO. It went about as well as you’d expect.
- July 15, 2015: Curt Schilling shares the true meaning of the Confederate flag, with particular emphasis on its Christian roots and as a symbol of liberty. (Yes, liberty. Stop laughing.)
- August 25, 2015: Curt Schilling pulled from the Little League World Series for a comparison of extremists within the Muslim population to the ratio of Nazis in pre-World War II Germany. (At the very least, this gave Jessica Mendoza her time to shine.)
- March 23, 2016: Curt remarks that Hillary Clinton should be “buried under a jail somewhere.”
The New York Times summarizes his latest controversy well:
The [Twitter] post showed an overweight man wearing a wig and women’s clothing with parts of the T-shirt cut out to expose his breasts. It says: “LET HIM IN! to the restroom with your daughter or else you’re a narrow-minded, judgmental, unloving racist bigot who needs to die.”
To that, Schilling added: “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”
ESPN, tired of Schilling’s sophisticated epistemological insights on human biology, fired him on Wednesday. (The network had tolerated his shticks—including a day-long Twitter fight with his colleague Keith Law about evolution—since 2010.)
Make Buffalo Average, Eventually. Rex Ryan, a head coach with far more wins than losses, joins the chorus of sportspeople supporting Donald Trump’s tease. Here’s Rex campaigning with Trump shortly before the primary election open. During the Buffalo rally, Trump mistakenly referred to 9/11 as “7/11”. It’s a gaffe so terrible, a mistake so atrocious, Ryan will probably make him QB any day now.
Did Kobe Deserve Another Shot? Kobe Bryant played the last game of his NBA career, scoring 60 in an unforgettable win over the Utah Jazz. But, easily overlooked by many fans was his rape trial in 2003—and his subsequent apology letter where Kobe admitted that his accuser earnestly believed that a rape occurred. (Morgan wrote about her conflicted Kobe fandom last year.) Two pieces worth your time:
The Legacy Of The Kobe Bryant Rape Case - Lindsay Gibbs
Wrestling With Kobe Bryant’s Forgotten Apology - Dave Zirin
Twitter: Essentially a Microcosm of a Sports Bar.The Big Lead surveyed 52 sports media people on Twitter and I can’t gush enough about this report andanalysis. Read the whole thing. TBH, it’s even more interesting juxtaposed against the previous story. (Me thinks we should dive more deeply into this at a later time.) Select findings:
- Multiple respondents cited groupthink as the “worst part of Twitter.”
- Any sports media groupthink is likely to be liberal. There’s a simple reason: sports media members tend to be liberal. 62 percent of media members viewed Twitter consensus as “liberal” or “very liberal.” Only 10 percent viewed it as conservative. Sports media members think Twitter is liberal. Yet, only 33 percent of respondents thought Twitter was more liberal than themselves.
- 56 percent of media members admitted censoring an opinion to avoid Twitter reaction. 48 percent admitted censoring an opinion about sports.
- 69 percent of the 16 women who took the survey described social media as a negative environment for women. 31 percent of those described it as “very negative.” Only 6 percent described it as positive.
- 100 percent [of women] reported being harassed. 100 percent had had negative comments made about their appearance.
- Half of media women said they had been made to feel unsafe by a social media interaction.
- Nine of the ten survey respondents who identified as non-white reported being disparaged by race.
MLB’s Player to Professional Pipeline. Twelve years ago, Tigers great Tony Clark learned from a GM that if the ballplayer ever wanted to become a baseball executive all his 20 years of playing experience would only get him an entry-level position in the game’s white collar offices. Clark wants to fix this and last week sent the commissioner’s office a proposal “designed to bring more black Americans into the game and promote the growing number of Spanish-speaking players to the ranks of coaches, managers and baseball executives,” reports the NYT.
“The fact that the business of baseball fails to reflect the diversity of those who play or even the social diversity of the United States is undermining the growth of the game and creating the impression that those in charge are increasingly isolated from players and the fan base,” said Clark. We see you Tony.
Damon Bruce V. the Fighting Irish. Here’s the Knicks’ Jerian Grant for the Players Tribune about his frustration with cultural disregard for women’s sports: “One of the coolest things about the culture we had at Notre Dame was that it was normal to see women’s and men’s basketball as being equally important.”
If you liked this...
And believed you’d be baseball’s next superstar so strongly that you started learning a second language in third grade so you’d never have to use a translator, then you probably weren’t surprised when Adidas signed you to shoe deal right after you won Rookie of the Year and felt like Esquire’s interview at age 21 was just Part of the Plan. Fam, can you channel some of this kid Carlos Correa’s confidence when youfollow and like?
Morgan and Bradford