The world of women’s sports has come a long way over the past few decades. In the past 30 years, many professional sports leagues for women were formed. In fact, as of 2015, the only sports that women do not play professionally in the United States are football, baseball, and ultimate Frisbee.
Strides continue to be made. Thirty years ago, the women who won the Wimbledon Tennis Open received 10% less than the male champion. As of today, the prize money for men and women winners is identical. So it is clear there has been some progress made. That is wonderful and should be commended on some level.
However, there are still some very misogynistic individuals out there who have a hard time accepting new things. Facts show that females are still paid less money than men for the same work. There is still an undercurrent of sexism in our nation that sometimes bleeds over into the sports world, and that is very unfortunate. As we enter the end of the second decade in this new millennium, we as a nation, and as a society, should demand there be no place for biases based on gender any longer.
Today, we will showcase the 15 worst examples of sexism in the sports world over the last 30 years.
15. Colin Cowherd – Media Personality
The ever controversial shock jock of sports radio, Colin Cowherd is always looking to stir the pot. He was fired from ESPN just prior to his agreed upon departure date because of his racist comments regarding Latino baseball coaches. In 2015, while still with ESPN, Cowherd is quoted as saying, “Guys do one thing really well, and I think it’s really helped them through the years in business. Guys compartmentalize really well. Women don’t do it as well.”
According to Cowherd, men lying to women has made them more compartmentalized, causing them to not take on criticism as well as their male counterparts in the business world, which is why they are less successful. Cowherd routinely toes the line of political correctness and is always good for a wacky take, but this one seems to go a little too far for many fans. With antics like this, we should not be surprised that Cowherd left ESPN for the more risqué and brash Fox Network.
14. Boris Johnson – London Mayor
This is the wild British politician who gained recent fame with his outward push for the UK to leave the European Union. This man is regularly compared to the likes of Donald Trump when it comes to his outspoken and unapologetic stereotypes and insults. Johnson recently wrote a piece that was published for the Daily Telegraph wherein he lists the 20 most exciting things about the Olympics, entitled, “20 Reasons To Feel Cheerful” about the Olympics.
Number 19 on his list reads, “As I write these words, there are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade immortalised by Canaletto. They are glistening like wet otters.” These comments rank relatively low on the list of embarrassing quotes for Mr. Johnson, but he somehow finds a way to offend almost everyone out there, even sports fans. It is always rather surprising when people seem to speak without a filter.
13. Stephen A. Smith – Media Personality
Is it really surprising to see “Screamin” Stephen A. Smith on this list? Smith seems to have a controversial thing to say on damn near anything he is asked to discuss. He recently lost his shouting match foe, (and no stranger to controversial remarks) Skip Bayless, to the Fox Network, but Stephen A. will now be seen mixing it up with Max Kellerman on “First Take.” During the Women’s World Cup in 2015, Smith was in a conversation about the Germany vs. Norway game. Now, why he was even talking about this game is a puzzle to me. Perhaps his lack of soccer knowledge is what led him to saying, “They may not have wanted to mess up their hair,” referring to Germany giving up a game winning goal on a free kick.
Of course, a comment like that is not going to go over well with people. Smith seemingly always finds himself in the midst of sports gossip drama, but once in a while, it would be nice if he could just sit back, be quiet, and give us all a break.
12. Head UK Athletic Official
It is one thing to have a shock jock radio host, or an ex-athlete release an insensitive comment, but it is a whole different story when the government’s athletic officials are making comments about their own athletes. Leading up to the 2012 Olympic games, it was confirmed that a “high ranking athletic official” made remarks about Jessica Ennis-Hill, who was a UK participant in the Heptathlon, that were none too flattering. The official said, “She’s fat and she’s got too much weight.”
Ennis’ coach acknowledged later that the fuss regarding the comments did become a distraction. However, through it all, Ennis went out and won gold in the Heptathlon, which is a combination of 10-meter hurdles, high-jump, shot-put, 200-meter and 400-meter race, long-jump, and javelin. Ennis is now regarded as on of the most beautiful athletes to ever emerge from the UK and she is a great role model for women all across the world.
11. Gilbert Arenas – Ex-NBA Player
Arenas went to Instagram to let the world know he approved of the new WNBA uniforms. He stated: “Now this is what America was hoping for when they announced the WNBA back in 1996.” Later, he said, “They [WNBA] have a few cutie pies, but theres a whole lotta beanies running around.” Gilbert has never been the sharpest knife in the drawer, especially when it comes to biting his tongue.
When Gilbert was made aware that some people took his criticisms of the WNBA to be a bit repulsive and very inappropriate, he took to Instagram again, but not to apologize.
Arenas defended his stance by arguing, “Men are 80 percent of sportviewers RIGHT? So lets name a few women sports,that still attract the men viewers…#Tennis,omg they were short skirts like female..#trackandfield,short tights and crop tops,so we can see abs …” I guess some people just don’t get it, and never will.
10. The International Association of Athletics Foundation (IAAF)
This selection is a rather interesting one. The IAAF definitely made a statement that seemed a bit sexist. The insult, however, was not necessarily in the words as much as in the action. After South African track and field star Caster Semenya won the 800-meter World Championships, the IAAF mandated Semenya “undergo a gender verification test.”
This statement meant that they didn’t believe a true woman could perform the feats Caster was able to accomplish. The test included an endocrinologist, a gynecologist, an internal medicine expert, an expert of gender, and a psychologist. She was withdrawn from competition for several weeks while the results came in. She was ultimately awarded her prize money and her gold medal but after such an ordeal, one wonders how she felt about it. In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman included Semenya in a list of “50 People That Matter In 2010,” so she ultimately got the last laugh. But seriously, talk about offensive.
9. Frankie Boyle – Scottish Comedian
I understand that a comedian’s job is to make people laugh. Comedy and laughter are healthy and should be celebrated as such; however, there is a line that sometimes should not be crossed. To demean a women for her appearance in an attempt to gain a laugh is something that crosses that line. Leading up to the 2012 Olympic games, Scottish comedian and regular offender Frankie Boyle thought he was making people laugh when he said, “ I worry that Rebecca Adlington will have an unfair advantage in the swimming by possessing a dolphins face.”
Rebecca took it all in stride, as a true champion would, by having no comment in response to the insult. There was a backlash against Boyle by the media, however. Boyle was asked to comment on Adlington again after she went out and won two gold medals in Bejing. Boyle doubled down on the original comments, saying, “The thing that nobody really said about Rebecca Adlington is that she looks pretty weird. She looks like someone who’s looking at themselves in the back of a spoon.”
8. Richard Petty – Nascar Legend
NASCAR racing has a rich history in southern ideals. Many of those ideals include women having very specific roles in society. Richard Petty is an old school NASCAR guy, having started his career in racing back in the 1960s. The now 79-year-old man has lived a long life and has seen a lot of change during his time. One thing about Petty is that he has never been bashful about giving his opinion on pretty much anything.
When asked about Danica Patrick in 2014, Petty responded, “If she’s have been a male, nobody would ever know if she showed up to a racetrack. This is a female deal that’s driving her.” Petty has been extremely outspoken about his lack of support for the sole female driver in any major car racing circuit. Petty’s son Kyle, also has stood up against the rise of Danica Patrick. It is a wonder why fellow race car drivers would be so against the sport growing and broadening its fan base.
7. Sepp Blatter – Former FIFA President
The most corrupted organization in sports worldwide is without question FIFA. Sepp Blatter, who recently resigned amid intense scrutiny and speculation of vast corruption within the organization, has had many incidents of inserting foot into mouth. When he was discussing ways to increase the popularity of the women’s game, Blatter decided it would be a good idea to express his thoughts. He said, “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball, they could, for example, have tighter shorts.”
Blatter has long been viewed as a loose cannon with no filter. This, however, is beyond “goofy Sepp.” Blatter suffered his ultimate fate when things began crumbling around him several years ago. Reports began surfacing about Blatter and his cronies executing high levels of corruptions within the FIFA organization, including accepting bribery money from World Cup host countries. Perhaps he should have been less worried about what female athletes wear and more worried about his illegal activities.
6. Shamil Tarpischev – President of Russian Tennis Federation
Russians tend to be outspoken individuals in this world, for better or for worse. This time, it is the President of the Russian Tennis Federation who inserted his foot in his mouth. Shamil Tarpischev is now 68 years old and still stands as President of the Russian Tennis Federation after his shameful words regarding Venus and Serena Williams back in 2014.
Tarpischev was on a late night talk show when he referred to the Williams sisters as “The Williams brothers.” He also said, “It’s frightening when you look at them.” Shamil has since, reluctantly, apologized to the sisters, but his true punishment came in the form of a one-year suspension from the WTA, as well as a $25,000 fine. Serena said the comments were hurtful and extremely sexist and racist. Tarpischev still claims his comments were not meant to hurt anyone and that they were lighthearted. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it.
5. Matt Brown – UFC Fighter
UFC welterweight fighter Matt Brown has a really surprising stance on Women’s MMA and someone gave this man his own podcast to talk about it. The 35-year-old fighter who got his start on the TV show The Ultimate Fighter now has his own podcast where he spouts ridiculous things designed to attract listeners. Not long ago, Brown was on his podcast discussing the women’s division of the UFC and he didn’t hold back, saying, “I just think this, if I am going to pay $60 for a pay-per-view to watch women fight, they should at least be topless.”
The backlash against these comments was intense and Brown quickly apologized for his comments, but the damage was done. When asked about the comments, Ronda Rousey had the ultimate burn for Brown. She was asked what she thought of Brown’s remarks, and she answered back, “wait… who is Matt Brown?” Ouch, burn!
4. Donald Sterling – Ex-Clipper Owner
What would a list of insensitive remarks be without an appearance from Donald Sterling? The ex-Los Angeles Clippers owner who was stripped of his basketball team because of his outward racism is also sexist as well. Big surprise, I know. Sterling has had some extramarital affairs, as we all found out during his mistress debacle. Well, Sterling seems to have little respect for women everywhere he goes. Sterling was quoted as saying, “If my girl can’t do what I want, I don’t want the girl. I’ll find a girl who will do what I want.” Sounds about right for Donald Sterling right?
This is the same man who said he didn’t want his girlfriend hanging out with Magic Johnson or any other black people. There is no place for a man like Donald Sterling in this world, and it is noble that the NBA was able to remove him from their circle.
3. John Inverdale – BBC Broadcaster
Inverdale has had a very successful career as a broadcaster. He has presented coverage of many major sporting events, including the Olympic Games, Wimbledon, and the World Cup. He was also the main television presenter of Today at Wimbledon until 2014. In 2013 is when all the trouble began for Inverdale. During a pre-game discussion with co-host Lindsey Davenport, Inverdale said of eventual winner Marion Bartoli, “I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, I just wonder if her dad did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, ‘Listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a Sharapova’.”
The remarks made headline news, and Iverdale was ultimately fired for the comments. Inverdale is hopefully not a father to any little girls. If his comments are any indication of his parenting approach, it would be a shame for a child to have to grow up under his roof.
2. Don Imus, Radio Personality
Don Imus began his radio host career way back in 1968, long before the WNBA, long before Hillary Clinton ran for president, and long before the current expectations on how to talk to and about women. In 2007, the Rutgers women’s basketball team was one of the top basketball teams in the country, reaching the NCAA Finals that season. During their run to the championship game, loudmouth Don Imus and radio show cohorts decided to have a discussion about the women on the team. Ultimately, Imus said of the athletes, “Those are some nappy headed hoes.” Imus’ defense was “That phrase [nappy-headed ho] didn’t originate in the white community. That phrase originated in the black community. Young black women all through that society are demeaned and disparaged and disrespected by their own black men, and they are called that name in black hip hop.”
Talk about unaware. Don got what was coming to him when he was fired for his comments. He has done some special appearances since the comments, but his career has all but washed up by now.
1. Raymond Moore – CEO and Tournament Director at Indian Wells
Women’s tennis has seen the rise of some of its greatest players in history over the past decade plus. Raymond Moore must not be one of the millions of fans of the women’s game, however. The tournament director at Indian Wells, aka BNP Paribus Open, is obviously a bigger fan of the men’s game. In 2016, Moore went on a rant telling female tennis players how grateful they should be to the men in the sport. Regarding the female tennis players, Moore said, “They don’t make any decisions, and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky. If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they have carried this sport. They really have.”
It was announced by owner Larry Elison the very next day that Moore had stepped down as CEO and Tournament Director. Raymond is a 70-year-old man with old fashioned and unrealistic points of view, but that is not an excuse for such ignorant behavior. As a society, we should expect and demand more from those people with the platform to make change. Raymond Moore and all the others on this list should be using their platform and their voice for positive change, and until that happens we will continue to see despicable statements like the ones here.
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