I had many emotions when discovering Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had said it was “funny to hear a female” talk about football when questioned by Jourdan Rodrigue.
This occurred at the pre-match news press conference in which The Panthers, will take Detroit Lions on Sunday.
I was shocked than angry, then shocked again as if I was going through the seven stages of grief not only because of the comment but I respected Cam Newton as a QB.
What really struck a cord was this was almost a weekly occurrence for me as a football reporter last season covering Leyton Orient.
Not only that, back in 2014, when I worked for no money match reporting in the Scottish Highland League, I was told “sports writers are getting better looking” making me feel like I had no other substance to what I was doing apart from my looks.
Rodrigue asked Newton about wide receiver Devin Funchess’ route running, which led him to smirk.
Unfortunately, I cannot count how many times people belittled me in my profession from little remarks such as “clever girl” when speaking about certain plays or rules because it is too many.
Not even just from men. A woman saying I could not have an opinion on whether Titanic was good or not because all I cared about was sports. As if that makes me less of a lady who could not hold that opinion on a romantic movie.
I had many dream jobs when I first became a “rookie” sports reporter, being a club journalist, TV sports reporter, match day commentator, to be told some clubs don’t hire females because “on away days we stay in hotels”.
So because I am a female and we stay in a hotel I cannot be a football club reporter?
In 2017, when NFL players are taking a knee for equality, shouldn’t the world already be showing equality for woman in sports-related roles?
I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, fighting my legitimacy as a reporter, being called “BAE” and someone shouting it’s ok you can’t write because “you are good looking”.
Even having one person go as a far as he completed a weekly social media tirade of how in his eyes I couldn’t write and had to ask constantly if I won a competition to cover Football because I was a terrible reporter.
I’d even go as far to say I might have even worked harder than some men to get to where I am just because I am a woman.
To be honest, I am sure Newton did not mean it in that way. The problem is he has done it and he was caught on camera.
On Thursday evening, Newton released a statement saying what he did was “extremely unacceptable”.
He continued: “The fact that during the whole process I’ve already lost sponsors and countless fans, I realise that the joke is really on me. I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this.”
He later noted that he himself is a father of two young daughters, he directed a message to his young fans: “I hope you learn something from this as well. Don’t be like me. Be better than me.”
I do think it is sincere, maybe partly because he realised he has lost sponsors and fans, but he came out and owned up (even though he did not mention Rodrigue by name when apologising).
However, the issue still remains and I can tell you these comments, remarks or looks happen every weekend to a woman working as a sports reporter.
Women should not be made to feel like undermined like they do not belong in this industry.
I know more about some sports than some of my male friends because I love it and partly because I may feel like I have too and even Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has backed me up on that one.
What is the saddest thing from this whole comment debacle, is the reaction on social media.
Men coming out and saying it was not meant, and we are blowing it out of proportion.
Female news journalists face the same type of scrutiny but by saying it is us taking things to far because of our “emotions” is another problem in itself.
However, I have been encouraged. While the minority few sticking to their remarks about females, other men have vented their anger and annoyance at the QB and others who made similar comments on social media.
It strikes me as crazy that remarks like these are still made. I use to feel once I moved higher up the rank, sexism and derogatory comments would be removed.
And sadly I was completely wrong, but I have hope, it will change.