Sexism can be a confusing and vexing concept, especially for some men.
That is the only plausible explanation for the lead Al.com food editor David Holloway placed on his story about an Mobile, Alabama event called, “Girls of Fall: A night of Food, Fashion and Football.” The event will “offer instruction in how to host the perfect game day party — either at home or at the stadium,” according to Holloway, who kicked the piece off with the matter-of-fact statement that “football can be a confusing and vexing concept, especially for women.”
The piece caused an uproar on social media, and in a comment posted on Romenesko, Holloway explained: “The ‘Girls of Fall’ event is not geared toward those women who are experts in football, but those who are not but want to learn more. We apologize for offending readers. The story has been edited in response to the feedback we’ve received.”
Al.com removed the “especially for women” clause from the sentence and attached an update noting that the story “has been edited to remove incorrect and offensive assumptions about women and football. We apologize for the error in judgment.”
How does this even happen? America has millions of football-loving women. It has 1,500 girls playing high school football across the country. It has women like Suzy Kolber and countless others working as reporters and broadcasters around the game of football. Leagues have spent millions of dollars marketing games to women, and while this may shock some men, a lot of them know a whole lot more about the game and its intricacies than do men. None of that should be surprising, especially not in a place like Alabama, where women and men are both born into a die-hard football culture. Football is no more confusing to women who don’t take a liking to the game than it is to men who don’t watch it either. But despite the “.com” on the end of its name, an editor at Alabama’s biggest news site just took gender cues from the days of Bear Bryant.
Since this apparently needs to be said, though, here’s a message to my fellow men: Women play sports. They like sports. A lot of them like to write about sports, talk about sports, and work in sports. A lot of them are better at sports than you ever were or will be. A lot of them know more about sports than you ever have or will. A woman’s body isn’t any less capable of playing sports than yours; her brain isn’t any less capable of processing sports than yours. Next time you discount a woman’s opinion about sports, next time you end a sentence about football being confusing with “especially for women,” try to remember that.