Scoot: Cam Newton’s Neanderthal moment

October 05, 2017 - 10:53 am

Does a female sports reporter have any credibility when it comes to asking an NFL player about the game of football?  That’s the question that was raised when Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton was asked about a receiver’s pass route and smiled and said, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes, like…funny.”

Jorudan Rodrigue, sports journalist for the Charlotte Observer, tweeted out:  I don’t think it’s “funny” to be a female and talk about routes.  I think it’s my job.

Is it legitimate to question a female reporter questioning a player about a sport she has never played – at least at the NFL level?  There is a widespread attitude that if you haven’t actually done something then you have no right to question or analyze that which you have not experienced first-hand.  Is playing in the NFL the only requisite for analyzing the NFL?

It’s 2017 and the only logical explanation for Cam Newton’s comment is that his brain was possessed by a ghost of a caveman past.  Women have been part of covering sports for a long time and women have actually been in sports locker rooms for 39 years.

On September 25, 1978, a federal judge in New York ruled that the New York Yankees could no longer enforce a Major League Baseball policy that banned female reporters from locker rooms on the grounds that banning females gave an unfair advantage to male reporters. 

Thirty-nine years ago, Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke, became the first woman to be admitted to a professional male team’s locker room.  And all these years later, Cam Newton’s brain acted as a vehicle of time travel to bring us back to a basic fight for equal rights.

Jourdan Rodrigue with the Charlotte Observer was asked if she talked to Newton after he mocked her during the press conference and she tweeted: I spoke with him after and it was worse.  I chose not to share, because I have an actual job to do today.

Cam Newton has expressed regret that he made the comment and there could be more of an official apology forthcoming.  But the fact remains that Newton had the attitude that a woman is not in a position to question specifics about playing in the NFL because a woman has never played in the NFL.  Does Cam Newton have a point? 

If Cam Newton is right that in order to ask specific questions about an NFL player’s performance on the field a reporter must have played in the NFL – countless, credible male reporters would immediately be disqualified from asking questions to NFL players.  But this goes much deeper than that.

As a talk show host, I heard many people question President Obama’s specific performance as President of the United States.  Nearly every day on the show, I hear callers and those who text, condemn President Trump.  Should those who question the performance of a president be questioning if they have never actually been a president?

The countless criticism of the actions of police officers comes from people who have never been in law enforcement.  There is strong precedent for studying, learning and becoming knowledgeable about sports or politics, for example, and becoming an expert with the credibility to analyze a position without having actually performed in that position.

If a female sports reporter is not in a position to ask an NFL quarterback about his job because she has never been a player in the NFL, then what right do you have to question any president or any politician if you have never been in their position?  Do you have to have been in a car accident to be in a position of analyzing a horrific car accident?

Do conservatives and liberals in the media have any credibility in praising or questioning presidents or politicians if they have never been in politics?  What gives Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity the right to judge the actions of a president – positive or negative – if they have never actually been a politician?  Is Rachel Maddow discredited from criticizing the Trump Administration because she has never been president?

Should you criticize a talk show host if you have never been in radio?

The answer to all of these questions is “yes” – you do not have to do something in order to analyze it.  But you do have to be knowledgeable about that which you criticize.  An individual can study and learn about the game of football or the game of politics and, in some cases, know more than some who are actual players and politicians.

Why does President Trump accept advice from Kellyanne Conway?  The President has decided to trust her – not for her experience as a politician – but because of her knowledge of politics.  And that’s just one example.

Cam Newton’s Neanderthal comment suggesting that a woman can’t ask a question about a pass route because she has never played in the NFL opens the conversation that analysis of any field is not strictly reserved for only those in that field. 

In many cases, knowledge is more important than experience.

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