Sticking to Sports
“‘Ice’ has been found to be a predictor of concussions—‘boards’ has not been.”
While Major League Baseball mandates that every team have full-time Spanish interpreters, some NHL teams forego interpreters to “force” players to learn English. Chicago Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane said they faked Russian accents when speaking English to their Russian teammate Artemi Panarin—an idea as unhelpful as it is offensive. On the other hand, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chára, who is Slovakian, speaks a total of seven languages in order to better accommodate new teammates.
That isn’t true. The U.S. will have a national team—the women’s team—at the FIFA World Cup, defending their title. In fact, this squad has won three World Cups and four Olympic Games. For comparison, the last time the men’s team medaled at either of those events was a World Cup bronze in 1930.
While it’s unclear whether or not King actually said anything along those lines, that little sentence calls into question the extent to which we view athletes differently in light of their personal and political views. Sports culture is chock-full of homophobia and sexism, from the words athletes shout at each other on the field to the way the teams themselves are covered. Especially in today’s political climate, it’s therefore impossible to pretend your favorite athlete doesn’t have an opinion on anything you have an opinion on. Your favorite athlete attends Pride parades or has a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat in his locker. Your favorite athlete has domestic violence charges or rape accusations. But are you ignoring that? Are you separating the athlete and the individual?
The backlash to Mowins’s speech serves as a jarring reminder whenever I get carried away imagining my own voice booming through the stands. If you’re a woman on sports TV, it doesn’t matter what comes out of your mouth, because there will inevitably be something you’re doing wrong: Your voice is too loud, your lipstick is too bright, your laugh is too shrill. Since women like Mowins have reached the big leagues—national television—you’d think the real struggle would be over. But it’s only the beginning—a wider audience means more opportunity for these hateful fans to speak up.