Sports Leagues and the Media Continue to Let Women Down
It's a little scary how numb I’m becoming to every piece of news that comes out about harassment or assault or whatever horror you can think of against women in the sports landscape.
And you know what’s especially frustrating about it? The way it gets reported.
In case you missed it, the (ongoing) situation with former Boston Celtics Head Coach Ime Udoka started with this very vague tweet:
It quickly escalated from there.
The problem was that people were quick to speculate.
Questions about the suspension length, why he still has his job, and who the female staffer was started spreading like wildfire without knowing much about the situation. That last part was so harmful, and it started with how it was reported.
Mina brings up a good point. “[News comprehension] is lacking in our [Sports Media] side of the industry in giving analysis based on the news….” She goes on to mention that the length of Udoka’s suspension added in with the “consensual” part of the reported relationship should have given us an indication that it was a lot deeper than that.
Especially when this piece of information was given to us an entire day after that initial vague tweet from Woj:
It feels like the stories mount up (whether that’s Deshaun Watson, Robert Sarver, Ime Udoka, etc.), and everybody suddenly becomes an expert on each situation, and the reaction is different every time.
With Deshaun Watson, it was dismissing the voices of over 20 women. With Robert Sarver, it was clear outrage from everybody except the NBA. And with Ime Udoka, it’s exposing every female staffer on the Boston Celtics and crossing a major line.
In each situation, the women are repeatedly being let down. Take a minute to consider the stories and situations that go without consequences or attention. This runs so deep in sports and when we pick and choose which women to believe and which stories to talk about, it continues to set a dangerous precedent for how survivors are treated in the media.
Hierarchy and power are important concepts, and it’s crucial to remember these relationships when reporting on the next incident (because there is always one, unfortunately. Yes, Woj and Shams should have collected the entire story before releasing one vague tweet after another, but maybe we should be exploring why two men seem to have control over the news-breaking landscape in the NBA?
Sports continue to let women down, so how will we break that pattern? I hope we can get to a point where women feel safe and protected by their employers, because the men’s leagues have shown time and time again that they’ll only care about those in higher power positions, and we’ll always be the first to know it.