As a feminist, I have been asked on many occasions how I could ever love watching sports like football where the goal is to beat each other up. I jump to its defense with a correction that it is boxing where the goal is to beat each other up. Football's beauty lies in watching players like the late Walter Payton and current Bear Devin Hester bob and weave past defenders. I also admit to love the beauty of Brian Urlacher cutting past an offensive lineman to crush the quarterback for a sack. When it comes to baseball, the question I get asked the most is how I can watch when it's so boring.
Well thanks to the sophomoric antics of the Chicago White Sox, it's not boring any longer. Yet, let's not pigeonhole sophomoric antics to just the Southside of Chicago. Recent antics include the admission of Hall of Fame bound pitcher Roger Clemens' relationship with the then-under-aged singer Mindy McCready. Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Carol Slezak is taking a lot of crap on the Sun-Times site thanks to the new interactive comments option for revealing the ChiSox antics. It makes me wonder if people are more upset that she talked about it at all or is offended by it.
Her offense at the display is well founded. Her comment about such a display being in violation of sexual harassment laws is very well founded. If I recall correctly, one of the landmark lawsuits was over a pin-up calendar in a fire house. Imagine what a court would do with a display of female dolls being sodomized?
Yet, I expect this type of low-brow 'humor' from athletes. As Telander points out, there are some other ways that baseball players try to work out of a slump:
Again, for the uninformed, major-leaguers throughout history have done ludicrous things to break slumps. They have made offerings, burned bats, gotten so drunk that nothing matters, found the ugliest girl possible -- a real one -- and...I'm not making these things up, just giving information.
But that anyone would wave away the sex doll display by saying there are worse things in other locker rooms removes any sort of responsibility from the White Sox organization. This display shouldn't be weighted against what the Cubs, Yankees, or Red Sox have in their locker rooms. It should be weighted against human decency and respect for women. It can not be waved away with the ever present, "Boys will be boys" mantra because in fact these are not boys, they are men. And for goodness sake, they should act like it. It does not matter that Telander can find one woman sports reporter who says it was funny. You can find anyone to prop up the establishment, especially one where women are still fighting for respect (again, see the comments on Slezak's column) in a "man's world."
I don't expect all athlete's to be role models or model citizens. Urlacher's recent tantrum over child support and Karl Malone's history of rejecting the children he had out of wedlock ,not to mention possible statutory rape, are all examples that immature men don't just play baseball. What I do expect is that the men (it is mostly men) who run our sports teams would take sexism, homophobia, and racist comments seriously. Andi asked me that as a Cubs fan if I wasn't just a bit gleeful that the White Sox have yet another bad mark on their reputation. "Not one bit," I replied. But it does make me a bit sad for White Sox fans. Always the groomsman in Chicago sports, even during their championship year, they are always wondering why they don't get any respect. We can make like Mariotti and pretend that stories of certain Cubs players trolling for ugly girls don't exist or we can face the facts and realize that we often root, root, root for the sexist jerk. Which I think is why as I get older, I root for my Cubs, not so much for the boy on the field.
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