Bernadette Compton is a PhD student (with an emphasis on sport) in American Cultural Studies at BGSU. She graduated with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology from the University of Central Arkansas. She received her Master’s in Sport Psychology from Miami University (OH) where she first became interested in sports media writing. She spends most of her time watching, reading and writing about, and discussing any and all sports. Specifically, she is interested in the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and sports. Her main sport writer influence is Kate Fagan.
By Bernadette Compton
If you haven’t heard, Greg Hardy is back playing football, after serving a four game suspension for his relation to a 2014 domestic violence case. Back in 2014, Hardy was found guilty of assaulting his girlfriend, but his conviction was overturned when she failed to cooperate with the case. Hardy, former player for the Carolina Panthers, left Carolina as a free agent, and the Cowboys signed him to a one year deal this March. In the week leading up to his first game in over a year, Hardy met with the media for the first time since coming back from suspension (Moore, 2015). Here is part of that interview: http://www.dallascowboys.com/video/2015/10/06/greg-hardy-breaks-his-silence-after-suspension.
There are a few comments that many people addressed, especially with his recent domestic violence case. When asked if he was ready to start playing again, he responded with “I hope I come out guns blazing, I’m full of excitement and full of juice. I’m ready to go” (Martin, 2015, para. 4). While “guns blazing” is a common phrase used in sport, it is questionable for Hardy to use since he had thrown his girlfriend on a couch with at least four semi-automatic rifles (Moore, 2015). He also deflected a question about if he had remorse for his actions, and instead focused on how sorry he felt that he couldn’t be there for the team. At the end of the interview (not included in the above video), Hardy had this to say about heading to New England, “I love seeing Tom Brady, he’s cool as crap…. Have you seen his wife? I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game, all her friends come to the game. One of my favorite games of the year, guys” (Martin, 2015, para. 6). And when a reporter mentions Blake Bortles’ wife’s attractiveness, Hardy responded “Is she? This kind of information is important. That’s how I select my Pro Bowls” (Martin, 2015, para. 8).
Katie Nolan, host of a Fox Sports show called Garbage Time, voiced her concerns with Hardy’s comments, especially with those mentioned above. Here is Katie Nolan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGrL39Q99sE
While many people agreed with her comments and how it seemed Hardy still shows no remorse for his previous action, many people disagreed with her. But instead of just stating their points, they instead were sexist towards Nolan, which is difficult to take when the main conversation with Hardy is his previous domestic violence case.
For example, some comments on Facebook found it appropriate to say she belongs in the kitchen and not talking about sports or sport related issues. This is a common occurrence in comments towards female sport announcers and journalists.
Another felt the need to make a sexual reference about Nolan, the below comment being the cleanest comment regarding this reference.
And finally, Greg Hardy found it necessary to retweet the following tweet “Gonna buy his jersey now because of the wife comments @OverlordKraken go boys!!”
There were many other comments and tweets on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook involving the same sort of language towards Nolan, even using extreme vulgar language regarding her looks and what she should be doing instead of talking sports. These comments and tweets came from both women and men.
This language towards female sport announcers and journalists is very common. Jane McManus, a sport journalist for espnW, also received comments about being in the kitchen when her article on Greg Hardy was published (McManus, 2015).
In the MLB, Jessica Mendoza, the first female announcer for an MLB postseason game, also received remarks about being on air (Rogers, 2015):
In a recent Sports Illustrated article on women in sport and social media, this language towards women is very real (Dicaro, 2015): http://www.si.com/cauldron/2015/09/27/twitter-threats-vile-remarks-women-sports-journalists?utm_source=The+Daily+Rally&utm_campaign=39a87457a0-The_Daily_Rally_20150929&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8529cab2df-39a87457a0-128054941
Lack of respect towards women in sport and social media is still an issue. Women are sexualized, viewed as objects, and constantly receiving comments using vulgar language. We see this not only in comments on articles, but in magazines, commercials, and discussions on blogs about the typical “beautiful” female athlete. So while women have made great strides in sports, there is still a long way to go to gain respect as a sport fan and journalist.
Dicaro, J. (2015, October 1). Threats. Vitriol. Hate. Ugly truth about women in sports and social media. Sport Illustrated. Retrieved from http://www.si.com/cauldron/2015/09/27/twitter-threats-vile-remarks-women-sports-journalists?utm_source=The+Daily+Rally&utm_campaign=39a87457a0-The_Daily_Rally_20150929&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8529cab2df-39a87457a0-128054941
Martin, J. (2015, October 8). No apologies from Greg Hardy as he talks about Tom Brady’s wife. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/08/us/nfl-greg-hardy-returns/
McManus. J. (2015, October 9). Greg Hardy’s comments make a mockery of NFL change efforts. espnW.com. Retrieved from http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commentary/article/13838832/greg-hardy-comments-make-mockery-nfl-change-efforts
Moore, D. (2015, October 7). Suspension over, Cowboys DE Greg Hardy meets the media: Here’s what we found out. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-cowboys/headlines/20151006-moore-suspension-over-cowboys-de-greg-hardy-meets-the-media-here-s-what-we-found-out.ece
Rogers, K. (2015, October 7). Criticized for being a ‘woman announcer,’ Jessica Mendoza shines anyway. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/08/sports/criticized-for-being-a-woman-announcer-jessica-mendoza-shines-anyway.html?_r=0
I’m all for second chances in the right circumstances, but sometimes, the nature within a person is too overwhelming to overcome with things like “awareness”.
One of Aesop’s fables come to mind:
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”
The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
but has just enough time to gasp, “Why?”
Replies the scorpion: “Its my nature…”