Thursday, February 25, 2010

Here We Go Again ...

The incident this week involving ESPN personality Tony Kornheiser and fellow ESPN anchor Hannah Storm was a predictable reminder of how the sports media still have a 'boys club' mentality.

On his radio show, Kornheiser criticized an outfit that Storm had worn on ESPN, calling it "horrifying." "She’s got on red go-go boots and a catholic school plaid skirt," said Kornheiser. "Way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe early 50s by now."

I call this a predictable event for several reasons. One, that Kornheiser made the comments to begin with. For someone that's been in the business for many years, Kornheiser should have known better, but the guys who work in the "boys club" of sports media still don't get it. Kornheiser honestly didn't think he said anything offensive, and to his credit offered an apology which Storm graciously accepted. But it's an obvious double-standard in the sports media when women are measured by their appearance or dress and men are not. Older guys like Kornheiser have a little more trouble with this because they grew up and began working in an era when the sports media were almost completely male, but that's still no excuse.

Secondly, ESPN suspended him from his radio and TV duties for two weeks. In the grand scheme of things, what Kornheiser said certainly doesn't rank with the most offensive comments ever made against women in the sports media. But while it may have seemed innocuous, in today's day and age you simply cannot say stuff like that on the air. People in the sports media lose jobs for sexist comments, a fact Kornheiser knows well by now.

The last point is the reaction from female sports reporters and anchors across the country. Because they've seen this so many times before their reaction is tinged more with resignation that outrage. Every time an incident like this occurs the pattern is the same: male sports person says something sexist, criticism mounts, male sports person apologizes, incident blows over. The point is that nothing ever changes. The attitudes are the same; it's just that males in the sports media industry (with the exception of Kornheiser) have learned to keep their mouths shut. It would be nice to think that this incident is going to lead us all into a new age of gender enlightenment, but history tells us something different. Sadly, it will probably happen again soon, and we'll once again play out this old, familiar script.


Blogger Diane Hughley said...

I did see the ESPN broadcast when Hannah wore the infamous red plaid skirt. Since I was having a problem with my blog site (Diane's Sports Talk, did not post.

My initial reaction was that her skirt was too short and with the boots, she did looked like a high-school student or college co-ed. And, yes, Kornheiser has been in the business too, too long to utter those remarks which were deemed as sexist remarks.

My issue is with Hannah. There comes a time in a woman's life when she should dress appropriately for her age and more importantly, for her profession. As a sports personality, do you know how many millions watch you daily and want the same opportunity? Do us proudly Hannah, please.


1:30 PM  
Blogger Will C. said...

Even if Storm's outfit was inappropriate, it doesn't excuse Kornheiser for his comments. I agree, he has been in the industry for far too long to not realize that he simply can't make comments like this, especially regarding a female who works for the same network.

It is a changing industry and journalists who have been working for many years, such as Kornheiser, are simply going to have to adjust. They have to realize that the microscope is on them at all times and any misstep could prove very costly.

4:21 PM  

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