Sunday, September 13, 2020

Not Quite What I Meant

Recently, there was quite a lot of online outrage over a comment by a sports announcer when he said something about the two women leading the race. The way people were responding, I thought maybe he said something negative about someone's weight or commented on a woman's appearance. Instead, he simply observed that the two rabbits out in front in a track race had "much more muscle mass" than the rest of the field. Unfortunately, his giggle and hesitation might have made it seem like he was laughing at the runners, but, taken in context, this doesn't appear to be the case. 

I've been saying we need to take attention off women's bodies for years, so you might be surprised that I don't find this kind of comment as bad as people made it out to be. I agree 100 percent that the wording could have been better to make the comment less controversial, but it clearly wasn't meant to be critical or hurtful. In the moment, it's not always easy to find the absolute best way to say something. He probably should have focused on their power, speed, and strength instead of hinting at anything close to the runners’ size, but it's not like he called them bigger runners, which some feel is just fine depending on who's making the comment, or said anything derogatory, far from it. The way people reacted was extreme, and this is coming from someone who struggled for years with an eating disorder. I fully understand how sensitive anyone can be when it comes to comments about body in general, no matter what the sentiment, but this kind of outrage puts sports announcers in a difficult position, trying to make the commentary interesting and even entertaining while also trying to avoid offending anyone by merely making an observation.

This blog post addresses much of what I was thinking about the issue, so I won't go into great detail here or repeat what has already been said. 

My additional thoughts on the matter are that it's understandable why people are on edge and ready to jump at any perceived error when it comes to commentary on female runners. We've been torn apart and objectified for a long time, and there are lingering effects of the systemic abuse of women and young girls in sports. It's all too easy to jump on the minor missteps of others when the mental health of many in the sport is potentially at stake, but I caution anyone reading to choose your battles wisely. It's unproductive to call for the firing of a guy who very, very clearly meant no harm, especially when there's more than one double standard at play. THAT is dangerous and damaging and shows a complete lack of tolerance and sensitivity.