Chris Bosh, The NBA & The Plight of the Woman Sportswriter
Throughout the NBA playoffs, thousands of sports fans have watched the #LeanIn organization PSA featuring prominent figures such as Miami Heat’s very own, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
Essentially, the organization makes a point of how much men benefit from leaning in and supporting women in their personal and professional lives.
Bosh, an NBA all-star talks about how he “prioritizes helping at home because his wife runs a boutique and he wants her to be successful,” Sheryl Sandberg Facebook’s COO and #LeanIn founder told ESPNW.
In the Lean In website, Bosh explains that he brings the team building skills he learned in the NBA to his household.
Gregg Popovich has also spoken about his support for Becky Hammon, who is also featured in the commercial, and has explained how she’s a successful assistant coach.
Bosh, Hammon, Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and all others involved with this movement are simply trying to encourage society to appreciate and support women around them for everything they do. Most importantly, to respect them.
So, these prominent sports figures are going on national television during game broadcasts to express how much the women in their lives matter and need to be respected and encourage those watching to do the same.
So, it’s a little baffling to me why some so called sports fans find the need to harass women online.
Said harassment was brought to the spotlight in a PSA made by Just Not Sports, which went viral on Tuesday.
The video featured Julie DiCaro and Sarah Spain hearing mean tweets read by a group of men. This powerful PSA highlighted the cyber bullying brutality women in sports journalism must endure on social media.
Inspired by the famous Jimmy Kimmel segment “Mean Tweets,” these men were asked to read a series of obscene, offensive, and just plain stupid comments directed at these two women.
Here are some of the tweets:
“One of the players should beat you to death like the whore you are.”
“This is why we don’t hire any females unless we need our d**** sucked, or meals cooked.”
“I hope your boyfriend beats you.”
Gut wrenching right?
The men reading the comments mentioned above thought so as well. They had a difficult time reading these out loud, and none of them felt comfortable enough to look at both Spain and DiCaro in the eye while reading the comments that came from Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.
These are just a few messages these two women get daily. It’s textbook harassment, and not much can be done because of the anonymity social media provides to those attackers.
Who are these two women?
Sarah Spain is an ESPNW columnist, ESPN radio broadcaster, and SportsCenter reporter. Julie DiCaro is an anchor for 670 The Score in Chicago and a writer for The Cauldron.
Both badass. Both brave enough to go to work every day despite obscene tweets.
Both are just doing their job.
“I hope your dog gets hit by a car, you c***.”
“Hopefully, this skank Julie DiCaro is Bill Cosby’s next victim. That would be classic.”
“Why bring up your own rape story. Is it to fire back at critics that say you can’t get any?”
“I hope you get raped again.”
The comments became progressively worse throughout the video.
One would think that with all this technology at the palm of our hands, people would be more educated than to take time out of their day to write pointless obscene messages to someone they’ve never met before.
Want t know why more women don't put themselves out there? These are from just the last 5 minutes. pic.twitter.com/L9p6bTGSk3
— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) April 27, 2016
So, I began to wonder what their cause, if any, was for such behavior. What led them to write such hateful, misogynistic comments to women they don’t know at all?
Are they jealous? After all, Spain and DiCaro are two successful women, effectively discussing sports – a male dominated platform.
Are they intimidated? After all, Spain and DiCaro are two successful women, effectively discussing sports – a male dominated platform.
Whatever the case may be, nothing I thought of could explain their behavior.
Nothing led me to the point where I thought, “You need to be hit in the head with a hockey puck and killed,” would be a reasonable thing to say. Not to a woman, not to anybody.
People may have the misconception that these are internet “trolls” lack social skills and sit in a basement as they compensate for their miserable, lonely life. But some of these attackers could be called “regular” social people – with girlfriends, and mothers, and sisters, and friends who are women. They are lawyers, doctors, bosses, professionals, people that can be assumed went to college and received a proper education. Yet, they seem to find solace in attacking women online.
The video ends with the hashtag, #MoreThanMean. Yes. These comments were more than mean; they were brutal.
As someone who has been cyberbullied before and a young student journalist hoping to have a spot in the sports media world, this PSA spoke volumes to me.
I felt immense gratitude. If it wasn’t for the courage Spain, DiCaro, and the rest of the women in sports media hold and show each day, I wouldn’t have the motivation, the drive, or the energy to continue this career choice.
They are opening a path for young women who enjoy sports not to be afraid of others wanting to silence them based solely on their gender. They are truly an inspiration to those young women, myself included, who get quizzed all the time on their knowledge in sports.
As someone who’s been cyber bullied before, I hope this opens many eyes across social media. I’ve always thought of myself as tough and courageous but words can leave long lasting emotional scars.
Not every victim will have thick skin and still wake up every morning and face their days. Not every victim to cyber bullying will wake up the next morning.
I hoped this video would shine some light on the harassment women go through in social media. I hoped that every single person commenting on the video would offer their support and say how ludicrous these messages were.
I was wrong.
Although many did respond the way I hoped, an array of users on Twitter expressed different opinions.
— Justin Small (@Urkilnmesmalls) April 27, 2016
Some mentioned outrage because mean comments are also directed to men.
Some thought these women had thin skin, and couldn’t handle a little feedback.
Some thought that if they couldn’t handle bad comments, then they shouldn’t have made a big name for themselves.
My personal favorite – some thought these messages were made up.
Well, thankfully that’s why screenshots exist.
I'm confident that my mentions are tougher than 99.9% of all people, male or female, receive on Twitter.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) April 26, 2016
If you’re one of the few that have yet to discover how women in sports media are treated in social media, I invite you to go to literally any women sports broadcaster or writer’s profile and dip into their mentions. You’ll find similar disgusting, disrespectful, heartbreaking comments that will prove that these two women didn’t make up a single word.
Although these trolls or cyber bullies are not the majority, they do create a loud voice that somehow allows more people to think it’s okay to attack women and men through social media.
I understand that the comment section in any article posted has become the modern age battlegrounds, where one can shoot their hot take cannon towards another reader or viewer and develop a discussion.
Somehow over the years, the civil discourse has declined, and useless disrespectful comments have risen. It’s now becoming so expected that Spain has mentioned, in her “That’s What She Said” podcast, that she usually just ignores it and goes on with her day.
These trolls are attacking people for different reasons, whether it’s because they have a different opinion or because of their gender – their fury knows no bounds. I’m not sure how many #LeanIn together commercials it’ll take for these people to stop attacking women online for simply doing their job.
I hope that the more we discuss this subject, the more impact it will cause around the world, and eventually lead to less and fewer attackers.
It’s extremely vital to discuss these issues even after the PSA, and it doesn’t stop today, and it’ll probably not stop tomorrow either. It’ll take some time for the harassment to cease, but we can’t just stay idle and let it be someone else’s problem.
Once again, thank you Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro for being an integral part of the solution.