Women KO'd in Media's Ring

Out of the Freying Pan

The media get razzed a lot about the lack of coverage of women's sports.

But once in a while, a big story on women in sports really catches fire.

Unfortunately, when Sports Illustrated gave top billing to a woman two weeks ago, it didn't focus on a Steffi Graf or even a Debi Thomas--outstanding women of sport.

Instead, SI turned to a television actress. And made a sport of women.

And it's this "sports" story that's blazing on newsstands across the country.


In recent weeks, actress Robin Givens has graced the covers of SI, People and Life--and the pages of numerous other magazines and newspapers--with newlywed hubby and heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson. If you looked closely enough, you could almost see the word "bitch" tatooed across her face.

It seems that "Poor Mike," as People has christened him, has been so distracted by his manipulative wife and mother-in-law, Ruth Roper (who, by the way, has sued Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield for infecting her with an undisclosed venereal disease--a fact SI deemed highly relevant to the Tyson story), that he hasn't been getting the proper amount of training for his bout with Michael Spinks tomorrow night.

You see, 220-lb., world champion Mike just can't seem to stay in the ring with the Givens-Roper tag team. Robin is making the poor boy break his traditional pre-fight vow of celibacy. And Robin's mom made him spend about 4.5 million on a new mansion in New Jersey. And they both are forcing him to put his financial records in their greedy, manipulative hands.

Three rounds and he's already down for the count.

Of course, there has to be a bright side of this for the poor boy. Just say, for the sake of speculation, that Tyson loses tomorrow night. He won't even have to think of his own excuse. The media has provided him with a number of variations along the "poor, manipulated Mikey" theme.

"Will Love and Marriage (and his mother-in-law) KO Mike Tyson?" reads the cover of SI's June 13 issue. Inside, the adjective used to describe Givens and her mother is a tame "willful." Check the italics and parentheses for SI's real message. It isn't hard to miss.

People ("...Robin Givens...will be the one who puts him down for the count"--June 27) hides behind no euphemisms. Givens is referred to as (in order of appearance) a "vamp", "Downright poisonous", "conniving," and "vicious."

Maybe Givens and her mother aren't angels. Maybe they even fit a few of the names they've been labeled with. Who knows?

That isn't the point. What we have is a matchup between two boxing greats. Tyson--the seemingly unbeatable, indestructable, current heavyweight champion of the world--and Spinks--also undefeated, but older, more seasoned.

Against the Odds

If Spinks beats the odds and triumphs tomorrow night, it will be quite a story. Unfortunately for the sport, Tuesday's papers won't trumpet the return of one of the all-time greats to the top of the boxing world. And it's highly unlikely they'll berate Tyson for poor preparation or a sub-par peformance.

Instead, the headlines will lament the fate of the hapless hero. Defenseless Mike, bewitched by his domineering wife and her baseball-star-seducing mother.

Full-blown exposure of women's influence in sports.

Just what we've all been waiting for.