I would love to put Cris Collinsworth’s latest gaffe in the long list of things that have sucked about 2020, but the truth is, women working in sports hear this kind of ignorant tripe all the time, even from men in our industry, no matter what year it is.
If you missed it, during the second quarter of Wednesday afternoon’s (??) Steelers-Ravens game, Collinsworth decided to channel Boss Hogg and word-vomited the following about the city of Pittsburgh: “Everybody is a fan. Particularly, the ladies that I met. They have really specific questions about the game. I was like ‘wow,’ just blown away by it.”
Hey Cris! I often have really specific questions about the game and I also have lady parts. Please advise on how I can be less surprising to people like you.
I thought we had established once and for all after Cam Newton’s bullshit remarks that yes, women do indeed watch football, play football, understand football, and think about football. We grow up watching it with our families just like the boys do. We play football in P.E. We play football in our backyards. We play football on the playground. We play Madden. We play fantasy. We wonder why the Bears are wasting Eddie Jackson at strong safety when he’s a playmaker at free safety.
Some of us even work in the industry! And I feel like Collinsworth knows this, as he works with Michele Tafoya every single week. He’s worked with a lot of women in his career. I’m sure he knows Beth Mowins, the first woman to call NFL games since Gayle Sierens back in 1987. I know he knows Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm, who call Thursday Night games on Amazon. I’ll bet he knows Laura Okmin, who has elevated sideline reporting to an art form for FOX. I’m sure he knows there are thousands of women coming right behind them.
What makes Collinsworth’s comments so galling isn’t just that women working in the industry have to hear this kind of garbage from male colleagues in the industry regularly — it’s that it’s still incredibly difficult for women to move up in the industry, while Collinsworth’s son, Jac, has already landed a prime gig with NBC on Football Night in America. Did I mention that Jac vaulted to ESPN’s Sunday Countdown right out of college? Not many women ever get a chance to do that, no matter how many specific questions they have.
Making matters worse is that Collinsworth offered his braindead observation to Mike Tirico, who continues to be the face of NBC Sports, despite his own history of sexually harassing and stalking (and in one case assaulting) his female colleagues.
The NFL! Come for the COVID, stay for the misogyny and nepotism!
Women who work in sports not only face idiocy like that of Collinsworth on the daily, we also often deal with a torrent of online abuse, mostly from giant diaper babies who feel that, in talking about sports, we’re invading their space. We deal with it, but every time Cam Newton or Cris Collinsworth opens their mouth and says something sexist, it gives all the trolls out there the seal of approval to keep doing what they’re doing. After all, a famous man told them it was okay.
I’m sure I’m going to get the usual round of “relax” and “calm down” responses from a lot of men who read this, but the truth is that the sports world goes out of their way to make sports and sports media difficult for women.
When men say the quiet parts out loud, like Collinsworth did, they deserve a tsunami of backlash.