Does Cam Newton Have a Mama?

Routes. I’ve said the word outloud a couple of times now. It doesn’t make me laugh.

You try.

Now, how about “Running routes”–is this more amusing? Are you laughing?

What if I put “routes” into a complete thought and a follow-up question:

“Devin Funchess has really seemed to embrace the physicality of his routes and getting those extra yards. Does that give you a little bit of enjoyment to see him kind of truck-sticking people out there?”

Personally, I find “truck-sticking*” hilarious, so I’m chuckling in an immature-15-year-old sort of way.

The rest of the words? Still not laughing. I don’t get it–how is “routes” funny?

Oh, wait. 

It’s not the words. It’s my vagina saying those words that’s so hilarious.

Male and female symbols with football in-between in Carolina Panthers colors, with text "Sexism and Sports Reporting"

Mansplaining Football

Male and female symbols with football in-between in Carolina Panthers colors, with text "Sexism and Sports Reporting"At least, that’s what Carolina Panther’s quarterback Cam Newton seems to think. See, Charlotte Observer sports reporter Jourdan Rodrigue asked Newton that question at a press conference. To fully grasp Newton’s sexist response, watch the clip; that demeaning body language tells you everything you need to know about how Newton feels. Not about the question, but about who’s asking.

Newton didn’t apologize to Rodrigue when they spoke privately after the press conference. He waited a few days before issuing a formal statement (translation: somebody convinced him that he’d lose more money if he didn’t–thanks Dannon!).

In the meantime, people properly bashed him on social media. Oh, Chantel Jennings, college football writer, you are awesome:

Screen shot of Chantel Jennings Twitter response to Cam Newton's sexist treatment of female sports reporter.

Cam Newton’s Apology Falls Short

So back to Newton’s eventual mea culpa. Here’s the portion where he references the women in his life and of the world:

“At [my two daughters’] age, I try to instill in them that they can do and be anything that they want to be. The fact that during this process I’ve already lost sponsors and countless fans, I realized that the joke is really on me. And I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this. To the young people who see this, I hope that you learn something from this as well. Don’t be like me; be better than me.

To the reporters, to the journalists, to the moms — super moms — to the daughters, the sisters and the women all around the world, I sincerely apologize and hope that you can find the kindness of your heart to forgive me. “

It’s nice and all, as formal statements go. Cynical people might argue that the lesson Newton learned is sponsors don’t want their spokespeople–no matter how big an athlete– to piss off key demographics. A less cynical person might murmur that negative reaction (revenue lost) has opened his eyes to bad behavior and he’s learning.

Oh hell no. If Newton were my son, none of his platitudes would’ve floated. Too late, too little, and really–you drag your daughters out? Does this mean you don’t laugh if your little girls ask you about football, but grown-up professional women doing their jobs are “funny”?

Give me a break.

Respect Starts with Mom

Male and female symbols with football in-between in Carolina Panthers colors, with text "Sexism and Sports Reporting"I’d imagine that 99.9 percent of NFL players’ mothers have no professional or collegiate experience at either quarterback or offensive line. Just as I have no actual experience playing soccer. My son (who dabbled in 7th grade football–we live in Texas, for God’s sake; football participation is practically a law here) played soccer.

For 20 years, I spent hours and hours watching soccer workouts, helping with practice, serving on team committees, reviewing game footage, enjoying matches, and listening to my son mull over strategy, players, and coaching techniques. From the time he was 4 years old until his last college team season at age 22, I was a devoted soccer mom.

My wonderful boy knew that, other than a few random gym classes and farting around with friends, I’d never played on a soccer team.  Even so, he never laughed at my comments, observations, or questions. In fact, some of my favorite memories involve the two of us, talking about soccer. I still love it.

My husband and I taught our children to be respectful of others. Consequences for rudeness were swift and in the moment. Ask my grown-up son what would’ve happened if I’d seen him being disrespectful to a reporter at a press conference. What maternal consequences would he have faced for sexist comments?

We can only imagine. So let’s.

Male and female symbols with football in-between in Carolina Panthers colors, with text "Sexism and Sports Reporting"Son is in the locker room following post-match press conference. Phone vibrates. Mom’s face pops up on screen as ID. He’s not surprised; she usually calls after a game because, naturally, she watches every single one. And then wants to talk about them. 

Son: “Hey, Mom! Thanks for calling. Did you…”

Mom: “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? Did I just hear you diss that woman reporter?”

Son: (pained expression, glances surreptitiously around locker room at his teammates): “Aw, Mama, I didn’t mean any harm.  She’s just some girl…”

Mom: (volume requires Son to remove phone from proximity to ear) “SOME GIRL?!? SOME GIRL?!? She’s a beat reporter, doing her job. Since when do you get to make fun of people who are sharing your thoughts with the world? Who died and made you so all important? We do NOT talk to people that way. I don’t care how much money you have.”

Son: (extended period of silence) “….ah…OK, Mom, I get you’re upset. You’re a writer, too, and I would never be rude to you like that. I get it. Sorry, Mom.”

Mom: “Don’t ‘sorry’ me, young man. You get out there and make things right. NOW.”

Son: (weary, pained expression) “Sure, Mom. The reporters are all hanging around. I will find her and apologize as soon as I get off the phone. You’re right–I would never want someone to talk to you or my future daughters like that.”

Mom: “That’s a start. Now, you’ve been a jerk publicly and debased her in front of her peers, so how are you going to fix that?”

Son: (heavy sigh, hangs head): “Uh…yeah…so I will make a public statement that says I’d never talk to my mom or family that way…”

Mom: (interrupting heatedly): “….no, no, no, no, no. It is never right to judge, dismiss, and disrespect people because of their sex–or color–or age–or religion. This isn’t about your family; it’s about how you see the world. You were disrespectful, so you say ‘I was wrong to be a sexist a-hole’ and follow with ‘I’m sorry’ and end with ‘I won’t do it again.’ Then, you go walk the talk with public service or a donation that improves workplace conditions for women in sports journalism. Are we clear?”

Son: “Yes, ma’am.”

Mom: “Good. Now, I’ll be watching. Don’t make me call you a second time on this, and heaven forbid I have to come over there.”

I wonder–what do you think Cam Newton’s mother said to him?

FYI

“A ball carrier who tries to run over a defender when being tackled is a truck. Trucking is most common with power backs, especially near the goal line” per Madden NFL 25 (“hit stick” is the defensive version of “truck stick”~Urban Dictionary)

“Cam Newton Apologizes for Response to Female Reporter” by David Newton

Male and female symbols with football in-between in Carolina Panthers colors, with text "Sexism and Sports Reporting"

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I’m a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I’ve come to learn it. In addition to my blog “Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life” at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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