Sacks & The City

by Lacey Cencula

Women can understand sports.

Wait, come again?

Women can understand sports.

No, no you don’t get it. There’s so many intricate plays and routes and positions that it’s an intellectual feat women can’t even *begin* to wrap their mind around it.

No really: women can understand sports.

Jot this one down: sports actually aren’t that hard to comprehend.

I’ve never understood why the concept of women liking sports is one thing people still can’t seem to accept. They’re all fine with women understanding medicine, technology, math, economics, linguistics, engineering, etc., but women understanding sports? Now that’s just taking it too far. Here we are in 2017, and a woman sports reporter can’t even do her job without being degraded and disrespected about her sports knowledge.

After backlash erupted over Cam Newton’s sexist comments to a Carolina Panthers beat reporter, he apologized saying he had meant his comment as a “compliment.”

I can not even begin to count the total number of times I’ve heard condescending comments at sporting events. Usually I’m given the (supposed to be) complimentary “Wow, you actually understand sports!” in response to my comments and critiques. Yeah, I do. I also understand a lot more impressive and intellectual things, but thank you for recognizing this one! It’d be like complimenting me for understanding the “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?” joke.

We see why this isn’t a compliment, right? When do males ever give other males that
“compliment”? It’s accepted that all males understand sports (even if they don’t); they don’t have to receive this “compliment” because duhhhh all guys get sports.

During a football game my junior year at Alabama, I was sitting behind a male student who was providing perhaps the most inaccurate sports commentary in all of history (and very loudly at that.) It was so very obnoxious, but everyone around allowed him to continue to ramble. I finally had had enough after he kept ranting about how Jake Coker would not lead us to a National Championship that year.

*After a bad play.*

“Look all I’m saying is- Jake Coker isn’t going to lead us to the natty this year. I mean, just look how terrible that play was.”

JAKE. COKER. WAS. NOT. EVEN. PLAYING. AT. THE. TIME. This guy was ranting on and on about Jake Coker’s failures on the field, when in actuality, Cooper Bateman was playing at the time.

I finally responded “Dude SHUT UP, that isn’t even Coker on the field right now, it’s Bateman.” He looked at me with puzzlement, until his male friend beside him quietly muttered “She’s right…” The guy proceeded to quietly ask his friend “Who’s that…?” to which his friend responded “Our other quarterback.”

I mean, I was seriously sitting behind a guy who didn’t know our other quarterback but he felt the need to share his commentaries aggressively out loud. And then couldn’t even begin to believe what I was saying until his male friend verified my fact.

Even a few weeks ago while watching an Alabama football game on TV, a male sitting near me asked his friend who Alabama’s quarterback was. Furthermore, he made the admission that he didn’t really follow college football.

Ok, see, it’s fine for people to have different interests. But here’s the kicker: when Holly Rowe (a seasoned veteran of sports reporting) came on the screen, the same guy goes “Haha I’m sure she knows a lot about football.” Oh, I mean she’s been a full-time college football sideline reporter for about 20 years and you didn’t even know who Jalen freakin’ Hurts was but ok????? It was a truly baffling comment that if I think it about long enough, my brain starts to hurt.

We see regularly how even when a woman expresses an affinity for sports, she’s instantly questioned and doubted.

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While that tweet was meant as a joke, it is actually a good representation of what women face when discussing sports. The idea exists that “Ok, here’s a woman that claims she likes sports, but does she really KNOW them?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been met with the sports IQ test (that is always the most obscure, irrelevant question) in an attempt to undermine my confidence and prove that I know nothing outside the accepted realm of female interests.

A person’s mind isn’t limited in its sports comprehension ability due to gender. When I was born, the doctors didn’t say “Congrats, it’s a girl! Unfortunately she will never be able to understand sports, but otherwise she is perfectly healthy!” Any person that cares enough to learn about a subject can understand it.

I understand football. I do not understand UFC. I don’t watch UFC, don’t read news about it, don’t keep up with the athletes involved. See how that works? I recognize there are sports I understand (the ones I choose to keep up with and care about) and there are some I don’t because I don’t care to. But my comprehension ability has nothing to do with my gender. It’s how pretty much any subject matter works.

So instead of giving women the inquisition treatment about sports, just enjoy having another person to discuss your interests with, no matter the gender.   

And by the way, Jake Coker went on to win a National Championship that year. RTR.

Lacey CenculaLacey Cencula