There’s been a lot in the news in 2014 about women and sports, whether it’s the debates about women in the media and the lack of coverage of women’s sports, or the various cases of athletes committing violence against their female partners (i.e., the NFL’s Ray Rice), and athletic considerations outrageously getting in the way of proper punishment.
Just this week we’ve see two pretty embarrassing media gaffes, both committed by U.S.-based subsidiaries of News Corp./Fox. One, while embarrassing, may have just been a slip of the tongue. The other, on the other hand, was a planned media strategy, and considerably less defensible.
We all know Mo’Ne Davis by now. She’s a pitcher for the Philadelphia Little League squad Taney Dragons, currently storming their way through the Little League World Series, in which she’s just the 18th girl to ever play. As Davis has mowed down hitters, she’s earned the praise of fans everywhere, including top athletes, while also giving some much-needed athletic pride to the city of Philadelphia. In a week with very little good news, it’s been one happy story.
So naturally, when Davis went on Fox & Friends last week, she was asked by anchor Eric Bolling why she doesn’t play a “more traditionally female-friendly sport, like soccer?” Davis, who also plays soccer, didn’t take the bait:
If Fox & Friends had existed in 1947, I can see Bolling asking special guest Jackie Robinson why he didn’t play basketball instead.
In fairness, Fox & Friends are ignorant assholes to everyone, so condescending to a 13-year-old, universally beloved phenom is not such a stretch. This is the same network, after all, in which a paid contributor called the First Lady of the United States fat on live television and faced no discipline. But still, characteristic idiocy is no defense.
Fox’s sports arm didn’t have a much better week. The cable network Fox Sports 1 recently debuted a commercial featuring the tiresome, According to Jim-style trope of the nagging wife who doesn’t want her husband watching football:
Now it’s one level of idiotic that this ad is for some reason structured as a parody of a Sundance movie trailer. But what’s much worse is that it takes entirely for granted that football is For Men Only, and that women have no place in college football fandom except as an impediment to their husbands watching it.
This hasn’t been true for a long time- by every measure, a big part of football’s growth in recent years is that more women are watching it than ever before. That’s been reflected in the notable reduction in boobs-and-beer-and-nagging-wife tropes in beer commercials lately, but apparently Fox Sports didn’t get the message.
That ad made me long for the day when Fox Sports commercials merely featured announcers creepily narrating the birth of a child.