Ladies and gentleman, Russia will be hosting your 2018 World Cup, and Qatar in 2022. Qatar is neither here nor there (seriously, where is Qatar? (RHETORICAL)), but Russia? Really, Russia?
My brain is exploding with Potemkin jokes, snide remarks about human rights, and generalized indignation. Was it not bad enough to award the tournament (riskily) to South Africa out of a sense of condescension? What’s wrong with Holland? They have infrastructure and food! Also beer. And I imagine the Panorama program on corruption in FIFA did hurt the England bid. Possibly because many of the allegations were true? FIFA, we are so done.
Anyway, I’m going to go calm down, so I leave you with this.
You may have seen that a couple of dancers at Tennessee-Chattanooga were benched for complaining that their shorts were too short. Good for them (actually), and, wow, nice going, Chattanooga athletics (not).
We have cheerleaders and dancers. Fine. I think they’re dumb and pointless and incipiently misogynist, but we have them, and we’ve had them for a while, and they’re not going away. And their prime function is to be cute girls on the sidelines in case the game isn’t worth watching. (Yes, that is their prime function. No, they do not lead cheers. No, it is not a sport. Yes, you are merely lying to yourself.)
Less blond, still appallingly handsome.
But, even if we have accepted that, we can still draw a line. Cheerleaders are supposed to be attractive. This does not mean they have to dress like street-walkers. And they shouldn’t, because that makes a bad thing worse. We don’t have to return to Sandra Dee poodle skirts and sweaters, but the USC Song Girls don’t dress like prostitutes, and I think everyone is on board with their vibe. There are places other than football games to see women take their clothes off, if that’s your thing.
And, hey, sportswriters? It’s not cool to insinuate that cheerleaders are skanks anyway, so that no one, least of all the cheerleaders themselves, is allowed to complain about the outfits.
In other, way better news, Fernando Torres seems to be less injured and scored two against Chelsea at the weekend, so as a good conduct prize we’ll spot you a photo.
There were prime-time NFL games during not one but two World Series games. Incidentally, these were both good baseball games. Neither football game was that interesting. Sunday Night Football got better ratings than Game 4; Monday Night Football lagged slightly behind Game 5. This state of affairs as a whole is unsatisfactory.
First off: yes, I understand that if more people wanted to watch baseball, they would watch baseball, and the NFL would not be able to swagger around flexing its muscles all the time. Baseball is the Conan O’Brien of sports, and it is our fault that it’s on TBS.
However. This whole situation is stupid, and my train of thought goes roughly as follows:
Yes, you cry more when Old Yeller bites it than when pretty much any person dies in any movie. This is okay, because, and this is important, it is not real life.
Animal abuse is reprehensible. Mr. Vick was a bad person and is a convicted criminal. However. Hurting a human being is always–always–worse than hurting an animal. And before you get all pissy at me because Mr. Roethlisberger has not been charged with anything, nor convicted, and therefore I should assume innocent until whatever: you’re an idiot. He is disgusting and no one with any sort of brain or morals thinks otherwise. His suspension should have clued you in on this point.
Let me share with you an anecdote. I was in a bar watching a game. In this bar there was a small woman wearing a Roethlisberger jersey. This was last week. It boggled my mind. Even if Mr. Roethlisberger is not a convicted rapist, he has shown a distinct pattern of horrifying and probably criminal contempt for women. No one should wear his jersey, but empathetically (if not intellectually) it is worse on a woman. But then this woman proceeded to make fun of Mr. Vick for his jail time.
At least he’s done his jail time. At least he appears to be openly repentant. Sure, maybe he’s the same scummy guy who abused dogs. I don’t know, and neither do you. But at least he thinks it’s worth it to seem publicly sorry. This means he can at least recognize decency, which puts him rather ahead of Mr. Roethlisberger.
People protested against Mr. Vick when he returned to the NFL, even though he had technically paid the societal penalty for his crimes. Maybe you don’t think it’s enough. Well, fine. But those were dogs. Mr. Roethlisberger hurt human beings, and a four-game suspension from the NFL is certainly not enough. But there’s nary a peep. When he returned to the team he was hailed as a conquering hero, as though he had recovered from a catastrophic injury or something, instead of having served a suspension for vile behavior.
The recent brief hiatus was caused by rain in Queens; the delay at the Open ate the beginning of my week and then threw everything off. So, sorry.
It will not come as a surprise to you that I am not a proper sportswriter. That is, after all, why I have this blog. I go to comparatively few live sporting events, and since many of those are Ivy League football games or played by the Mets, they don’t really count. I certainly do not have a pass into professional locker rooms. And I probably wouldn’t want to go in, even if I did.
Is it disgraceful that the Jets seem to have harassed a female reporter? Of course. Were Clinton Portis’s subsequent comments offensive and asinine? Definitely.
Is any of this surprising? Not at all.
Misogyny–of many kinds–is structural in the sporting industry. Women are relegated to sideline reporters, asking inane softball questions. Often there will be a token woman in a studio crew; she will rarely talk, but she will have good hair. Cheerleaders exist, and wear less every year. Bill Simmons still has a job. For crying out loud, Sports Illustrated has the swimsuit issue.
On a less pleasant level, many athletes assault or otherwise demean women, and go relatively unpunished–and those are only the ones we hear about. Indeed, we often still lionize the perpetrators. We certainly hold them to no particular standard.
I suppose my real beef here is this: the sporting media went absolutely nuts over this incident with the Jets. We’re still hearing about it. And it is bad. But it is also symptomatic, and of a disease which the sporting media feeds and perpetuates. And until everyone’s act cleans up, I have no patience for this ridiculous posturing.
We're running photos of Mardy as long as we can. Woo, Mardy!
You’ve seen this happen. You’re watching tennis, and someone gets unbelievably lucky hitting the net-cord, or a shot that was mostly desperation and very little hope lands in. At this point, unless the player concerned is a complete and utter jackass, he will make some gesture of apology.
I think this is the right thing to do. The woman commentating (badly) on the Fish vs Clement match on usopen.org radio, however, disagrees with me. She says something along the lines of, “You’re not sorry. You won the point. Don’t say you’re sorry. I don’t understand why they do that.”
No, of course he’s not sorry he won the point. But that’s not why he’s apologizing. He had no control over the outcome , and he is acknowledging that Lady Luck has (at least temporarily) deserted his opponent. You should never apologize for being better, but you should always bemoan someone else’s misfortune. Unless he’s Novak Djokovic. Then you just point and laugh.
I was surprised that there is disagreement on this behavior, since I’ve always assumed it was a universal practice. But I’ll sound you out.
I recommend not being a scuzbucket, sir. Usually works. You don’t do something scuzzy and probably illegal, you don’t get suspended. Not assaulting someone for a couple of months on the trot is not grounds for leniency.
It’s not often I agree with Terry Bradshaw, but he’s right in this case. Mr. Roethlisberger’s behavior was completely inexcusable, and backing off on the punishment will imply to future NFL scuzbuckets that such behavior will lack retribution. They already get away with a lot; we shouldn’t encourage them.