The Panther and Bronco offenses weren’t the only appalling thing that happened during Super Bowl Sunday.
Three-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Swin Cash, empathizing with Cam Newton’s less-than-stellar press conference after his Super Bowl loss, stated that the NFL MVP would learn to compose himself with more seasons and experience under his belt.
For her comment, attacks flooded in targeting the basketball veteran’s experience and belittling her because she wasn’t a male athlete.
Sports – whether it be on the field or on the sideline – should be a neutral arena where your work ethic and actions define you more than your race or gender.
There have been huge strides for women in athletics in the last 44 years since Title IX was passed – and UCLA figures have played a key role. Former UCLA basketball player Natalie Nakase was the first female assistant in the NBA, Bruin softball assistant coach Lisa Fernandez led Team USA to three Olympic gold medals, alum Kelly Rulon helped win USA’s first Olympic gold medal in water polo and numerous records were set by women at all levels.
Yet instead of celebrating these milestones and pushing for more, women are still constantly being belittled. For example, during the 2015 Australian Open, a male courtside reporter asked Canadian Eugenie Bouchard to show off her dress and twirl instead of focusing on her tennis.
I can still relate, even if I’m not quite on the same level as Cash. I’m probably the least athletic person out there – I peaked in high school playing varsity tennis – but I’m constantly interrogated on why I like sports. I get questions like “Do you really like it or are you just trying to impress someone?” and “How much do you truly know?”
Cash should not have to defend her opinions or resume to naysayers. She’s earned it. But the closed-mindedness of so many proclaimed sports fans is disheartening and disappointing.
Moving forward, female athletes and women’s sports leagues alike should be respected and viewed as equals to their male counterparts.