Growing up, my parents instilled the idea in me that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, orientation, etc. That especially includes gender, and there’s a reason I chose to single that out.
Cam Newton’s remarks cannot go unpunished. Period.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, in a news conference on Wednesday, Jourdan Rodrigue, a reporter for the Charlotte Observer, asked the Carolina Panthers quarterback a question about one of his receivers.
“Devin Funchess has seemed to really embrace the physicality of his routes and getting those extra yards,” she said. “Does that give you a little bit of enjoyment to see him kind of truck sticking people out there?”
“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes. It’s funny,” Newton said with a smirk.
Rodrigue handled the situation like a professional and didn’t respond to the remark, instead approaching Newton after the press conference. After he didn’t apologize, Rodrigue later took to Twitter to voice her opinion on the matter.
“I don’t think it’s ‘funny’ to be a female and talk about routes. I think it’s my job.”
That’s why this is such a big deal. More and more, women are becoming prominent figures in the sports journalism world, and should be treated as valued members of any staff, just like any man. It’s their job to ask those questions.
But Newton’s comments show an even bigger issue in sports media. Female reporters haven’t reached the same level of respect from athletes as male reporters do. The sad part is, this isn’t anything new.
Ines Sainz was harassed by New York Jets players in 2010, which included catcalls and throwing balls in her direction during practice.
In 2008, Brett Favre allegedly harassed Jenn Sterger through emails, voice mails and obscene photos.
Newton’s case is a little different; he didn’t say those comments for the same reasons as the others. He said them because he legitimately thinks it’s funny to hear a woman, someone who couldn’t possibly understand the sport like a football player does, talk about routes and his receivers like a true reporter.
What’s even worse is he didn’t apologize after the press conference was over. He didn’t express his regret until it was too late.
Thankfully this didn’t go unnoticed. Dannon, the makers of Oikos yogurt, said it would stop using Newton in advertisements going forward. But to me, this isn’t enough.
If the NFL wants to make a statement that this isn’t acceptable, Cam Newton needs to be issued a fine. Maybe he should even sit on the bench for a game.
The point is, what Newton did should not be tolerated, and it’s time that athletes treat female reporters the same way they treat male reporters.
You can follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake, and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.