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So a Bay Area sports-radio talking head went on a nine-minute rant about how women and their “ultra-feminine opinions” are ruining sports: “The amount of women talking in sports to the amount of women who actually have something to say is one of the more disproportionate ratios I’ve ever seen in my frickin’ life.” The whole speech was stunning for its length and use of the most explicit sexism where most others would have relied on coded statements. But the sentiment? Par for the course. I laughed out loud every time another man on my Twitter timeline expressed quelle horreur! at the idea that anyone would say shit like that in 2013.
So, ok, Damon Bruce is an idiot, and he’s not alone. Several journalists wrote think pieces about what his rant did or didn’t mean. And here’s what got me: Every one of those pieces—at Deadspin, SB Nation, Sports on Earth, BuzzFeed Sports, Awful Announcing—was written by a white dude. This is not, on its face, a bad thing: men should be aware of/write about sexism. Everyone likes an ally. But why didn’t any of those publications ask the women on their staffs to weigh in?
Because there are no women on their staffs.
This is not true of Sports on Earth, which employs the very smart Gwen Knapp and Emma Span (both of whom tweeted extensively about Bruce and, I assume, didn’t want to write longer). But those other publications? Zero female staffers between them.* So while their best writers (one of whom is a friend, several of whom produce work I admire) strung together beautiful turns of phrase about a dude who says I shouldn’t have my job, I wish just one of them had acknowledged that the best way to prove the Damon Bruces of the world wrong is to feature smart sports commentary by a diverse range of writers, and that their employers are failing.
Meanwhile, SB Nation’s baseball editor took things one step further, asserting that “the relative dearth of women covering sports is due not to a lack of opportunity, and not to prejudice.” This from a male editor at a publication without a single woman employed full-time writing or editing content.
There is no excuse for not hiring women, whether your publication covers sports or tech or politics. I’m sick of hearing male EICs and CEOs say they really want to change the ratio without ever doing it. It’s not that hard. And by refusing to make it a priority, to just get the job done, the editors of those publications are the ones feeding the Damon Bruce-style trolls. Publish all the smart stuff you want about why Bruce is wrong. Just don’t ever forget that you are part of the problem too.
*correction: One of Awful Announcing’s 13 staff members is female. I missed her name on the masthead, and I apologize.
It’s easy to forget that this was a pretty revolutionary idea for sports journalism in 2003. I’ve read Athletics Nation, the first “serious” fanblog, since the beginning, and it changed both the way I follow my team and the way I think about sportswriting. Frankly, if not for AN there’s no way I’d be working at ESPN right now.
Happy 10th birthday.