Without Pink Ball Caps, There’d Be No Lady Sports Fans

Osi Umenyiora probably believes that.

Happy Mother’s Day” tweeted Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora to Eagles halfback LeSean McCoy. The dis, of course, being that McCoy, who once called Umenyiora “overrated n soft,” is, gasp, a woman. Burn?

I wonder what Mrs. Umenyiora, the woman who lugged Osi’s big stupid head around in her womb for nine months—and then ostensibly ejected it via her privates—thinks of her son’s implication that being a woman is synonymous with not being tough. (And lest you think that’s not what he was saying, Umenyiora has called McCoy “Lady Gaga,” and referred to him as she ever since the “overrated n soft” tweet, which was only possibly offensive to the Giants and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.) As an ESPN commenter noted, “So I took from all this……..Osi hates women?!?” (Though otherwise, the article’s comments section is the cesspool of misogyny you’d expect.)

In the season of the War on Caterpillars Women, using “woman” as a blatant pejorative, at least to this proudly-raised-by-an-incredibly-tough-woman columnist, is simple asshattery. While homophobic slurs still persist in sports, they’ve at least been confronted, used as a teaching moment and identified as unacceptable in evolved society. Not so with gender slurs, even in a day and age where women are more accomplished in athletic endeavors than they’ve ever been (and when men are more in touch with their feminine side).

Here are just four ways sports dis females without so much as batting an eye:

1. The woman/girl/skirt dis. This is a classic, and it’s exactly what dear old Osi is guilty of. But it’s so prevalent in sports, it deserves further examination. While the basic version of this put-down is simply calling the object of scorn a female, there are variations like “little girl” (which is a blatant disrespect to one of the most fearless athletes of our time), “lose the skirt” (which displays ignorance to one of the toughest baseball leagues ever—oh, and caber tossing), and this bit of douchebaggery aimed at Cole Hamels, the audacious suggestion that because an athlete happens to be well-coiffed, he  must lack some degree of fortitude. Let us all remember that holy grail of toughness metaphors, that “balls,” are exactly where you should whack a dude if you want to raise his voice two octaves.

2. The pinkification of logo-wear: I don’t know how to say this other than like this: Pink sports hats/jerseys/thong panties for teams that do not have pink as a primary color are stupid. I can appreciate that it’s good and smart to have fan gear in women’s cuts, sizes and styles, but the pink barrage is just patronizing (as is the idea that you must attract women to sports through clothing). It’s as if to say women are more concerned about color-coordination than team colors, about fashion than the comradery that is part and parcel of sports fandom, or, put another way, they’re not really fans. Please. Pink is an Easter color. (Though I’ll let the pink Mother’s Day/breast cancer awareness bats slide).

3. Kiss Cam discrimination. For the record, I’m not arguing against the stadium favorite (despite my preference for Bongo Cam) wherein a cameraperson zooms in on a couple, puts the pair on the JumboTron and the crowd peer-pressures them into kissing. What I do find strange is the selection of kiss-cam couples. The formula tends to work like this: Four or five straight couples end up on the screen (though the camera operators try to find one or two who are obviously not romantically involved and watch them squirm), and then two dudes (who are usually not gay, which usually draws some uncomfortably sneering encouragement from the crowd). Forgetting for a minute the implications of that, consider that the kiss cam never lands on two women, as if to say though the concept of two guys maybe kissing and maybe being gay is okay to ponder, we won’t even touch on the concept of lesbians (which, okay, might be a bit too much for your average Phillies/Iggles fan to handle maturely).

4. “Ladies’” and “Girls’” leagues. Kudos to the WNBA, the CWHL and all other women’s sports leagues that choose not to daintify or infantilize their players by using terms like “ladies,” “girls” or “lingere” in their names. And to perhaps the most progressive of sports organizations, gasp, NASCAR and other racing circuits that don’t shrink away from women and men competing against each other.

On the other hand, maybe I’ve got this all wrong. I am a dude after all. Are there other ways sports disrespect and talk down to women? Let me hear about it.