By Julie DiCaro–
(CBS) On Monday, Jason Whitlock published a piece on his blog, J-School, which began like this:
I may be proven wrong later, but it’s difficult for me to believe that in 1996 Peyton Manning pulled his pants down and sat on the face of a University of Tennessee female trainer.
What’s even more difficult for me to believe is that he did this in front of witnesses inside the University of Tennessee training room.
At the moment, I don’t believe it. It’s difficult for me to believe any college football player would be that crude, predatory and stupid. Not in a training room. Not without the influence of alcohol or some drug.
Whitlock’s piece was posted just days before two University of Tennessee football players were arrested: lineman Alexis Johnson for aggravated assault and false imprisonment for allegedly punching and choking his girlfriend and Mackenzie Crowder for engaging in online sexual conduct with a police officer he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
It’s certainly not the first time Whitlock has written something stupid that immediately came back to make him look foolish, and he’s not the only one causing the general public to lose IQ points due to his hot takes.
Here’s what Fox Sports’ Clay Travis has to say about the sexual harassment allegations for which Manning was disciplined by the school and which landed Dr. Jamie Nauright a sexual harassment settlement:
Yes. I call that "being in a fraternity." twitter.com/WillMcAvoyACN/…—
Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) February 13, 2016
And then there are the brilliant thoughts of Detroit radio host Matt Dery:
“But then there is another part of me that goes have you seen this Jamie Naughright? They have shown pictures of her. She looks a little loose … The pictures of her … she looks like maybe she was …. not asking for that … no, no, no … the pictures they’ve put out on her make her look like she is one of the guys, fun, fun-loving, little bit sexy looking …. but the pictures they’ve put out of her showing off her goodies as well …”
Since more details of Manning’s time at Tennessee have come to light, as well the two civil settlements with Naughright that followed, these scorching hot takes have been taking over the airwaves, both on radio and on TV. In the past five days, I’ve seen more groups of men, likely with zero experience being on the receiving end of sexual harassment, hold court on how believable the claims against Manning are, what a woman’s motivation for claiming sexual harassment could be and even whether women should be allowed in locker rooms. Reminder: It’s 2016.
The one thing missing from all of these conversations? Women.
I get it. There still aren’t as many women in broadcast media and sports writing as there should be, not even close. But I find it impossible to believe that when producers, editors, hosts and programming directors sat around preparing their shows or pieces for publication, not one of them was able to find a woman to give her take on the allegations, locker room culture or sexual harassment — takes that likely would differ greatly from those of her male counterparts. Having a discussion about sexual harassment that doesn’t involve women is like the case of “The View” postulating on the benefits of vasectomies. Sure, they can speak on it, but men really should have some say in the matter.
Don’t get me wrong: Many of the men weighing in on the topic are strong advocates for women with nothing but the best intentions. But while women appreciate their allies on issues that disproportionately affect women, we would much rather speak for ourselves. Speaking on behalf of women in laudable, but in the end, it’s just another way of denying women a seat at the sports table. It banishes us to the kitchen to fix the snacks while the men watch the game and decide what’s best for us.
Freelance journalist Jessica Luther has written extensively about the problems in the Tennessee football program and has a book coming out this fall about the college football and rape culture. National Coalition Against Violent Athletes founder Katherine Redmond Brown works with schools to educate their players about violence against women. Hundreds (if not thousands) of women in sports media across the country could speak on sexual harassment in locker rooms. Why are none of these women included in the conversation?
Given that women make up a significant chunk of the fan base in every professional sport, it’s a bad idea not to include women in any kind of sports media. But when it comes to issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual harassment, it’s downright criminal.
Julie DiCaro is an update anchor and columnist for 670 The Score. She previously worked for 15 years as a lawyer in criminal and family court. Follow Julie on Twitter @JulieDiCaro and like here on Facebook here. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.