Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hardly a Cat Fight

Ok, so I'll be the first to admit that I was appalled to see this video of a Division I female soccer player violently pulling, punching, and kicking her opponents on ESPN Sportscenter. I watched this video over and over again to try and dissect whether or not my shock was based on the gender of the player or the truly horrific lack of sportsmanship. Julie Foudy's reaction on ESPN says enough.

As a former college athlete (Division III still counts, right?), I found this level of violence inexcusable. If I witnessed a teammate treating an opponent this way, I would be ashamed and outraged.

And yet, the coverage provided on this event by the New York Times was even more aggravating. Purporting to display "Those Soccer Plays, in Context" the Times went ahead and published a poorly-written, confusing piece that provides less context than it does conjectures and open-ended conclusions.

Female athletes deserve respect. Ms. Lambert should show more respect to her opponents and her teammates and she should be punished within the context of the sport, not punished by us as uninformed consumers of her life.

It is fair to criticize her on a human-level for her behavior but why on earth do I need to know
that she is now seeing a "clinical psychologist" to work our her issues or that "the incident had been perceived by some as sexy catfighting between two women"?

This was a great opportunity for NYT to step back from the incident and illuminate the reader as to the public reaction. Instead, what resulted was a conglomerate of gender stereotyping (complete with picture of feminized Ms. Lambert and all) that serves neither female athletes nor the public.

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