Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Sportswriting: Sexism? Reverse Sexism? Political Correctness?

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

Last night, you might have watched the University of Connecticut's basketball team defeat Kentucky for the NCAA championship.  Men's championship, that is.

Tonight the Connecticut women take on Notre Dame in the women's finals.  Two undefeated powerhouses, well-coached teams of immense talent, meeting at last.

So far, so good.

Collegiate women's basketball has been getting far more news coverage than in the past. It's a quality product played by dedicated athletes.  Yesterday's New York Times had a major profile of Connecticut's charismatic center, Stefanie Dolson, pictured here.

The story described how the determined young woman lost weight to get in better shape.  Here's the piece: "UConn's Center Adds Fitness to Her Ebullience."

The article reported that Dolson, as many sports fans know, is six feet, five inches tall.  So, I wondered, reading the article: Just what did Dolson weigh previously and what does she weigh now?  The story, by veteran sportswriter Jere Longman didn't say!  (Longman merely reported that Dolson "lost 15 pounds and gained stamina and lean muscle."

Is that sexism, reverse sexism, political correctness, or just bad journalism?

Any time Shaquille O'Neal or Charles Barkley gained or lost a few pounds, it was big news, with all the stats included. (O'Neal hovered around 325 pounds, the much shorter Barkley played at about 250 pounds, then gained and lost enormous amounts of weight after retiring).

 If I were really interested in Ms. Dolson's weight -- which, I'm not, it's the damn principle -- I could go onto UConn's official website.  After all, the championship men's team is listed by height AND WEIGHT.
Surely, the university gives men and women equal treatment on its website, right?


Just heights.  No weights.

What do you make of this?

Paul Levine


  1. No matter how much it changes, it always stays the same. The latest sexist comment comes from former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden who called Senator Dianne Feinstein too "emotional" about a report that outs the Bush administration for torturing people and lying about it. Really? Was there nowhere else he could go with that comment? I'm getting flashbacks from the 70s.

  2. I will chime in here and on your nakedauthors site...It is nearly impossible to find a roster that lists female athletes' weights. The WTA media guide does list all the weights, but many of them are clearly inaccurate. ie Serena Williams is listed as 5-9, 155 lbs. I can tell you, without reservation, that I have spent a lot of time very close to Serena and she is not 155 lbs. I would say she's also taller than 5-9. But her shoulder muscles and her legs alone weigh more than 155 lbs. I think despite the fact that we've "Come a long way, Baby'', we still are uncomfortable as a gender revealing our weights, and that is why most female athletes don't. I also know that if two undefeated men's teams 37-0 and 39-0 were playing for the national title tonight it would be the TALK on sports radio and every paper in America would be there. Sadly, that is not the case. We have a long way to go.

  3. What bothers me about the teams is the graduation rate. The men's team graduation rate is 8%. The women's in the 90's. That team is not all going to the NBA, what will they do in life?

  4. James O. Born4/08/2014 4:08 PM

    I took away that Ryan Boatright is 1/2 inch taller than me and 40 pounds lighter. That's not right. We're the same species.

    Jim Born

  5. What will they do in life? Probably live diverse, wonderful lives, and continue to be discriminated against because of gender. Sorry, we haven't come so very far when our politicians are debating over equal pay for equal work and who should decide whether to pay or even provide for any birth control for us overly emotional deficient folks who apparently aren't '" Leaning In" enough. Sigh.

  6. Universities continue to hire men as coaches and assistant coaches in women's sports...some with questionable qualifications...see University of Arkansas and Louisiana Tech just this week...yet never consider hiring a woman in men's sports.
    Networks continue to believe that a man should anchor their announcing and analy and conferences continue to send at least one if not more male officials onto the floors of women's games.

  7. What am I doing wrong? Trying to comment has been a nightmare. Can't go back and correct a typo or insert a word. The edit function is even worse. Have to go back to "preview" for each edit and that doesn't always work and the text moves around. Arrrgh!

    1. Blame Google. I've written long--and may I say brilliant--comments only to have them mysteriously disappear. That's why I remember them as brilliant, I suppose.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I personally don't think weight is a relevant statistic or issue to publish for men or women in basketball.There are sports like wrestling, boxing and perhaps others where weight classification is part of the sport. While it may seem a double standard to publish weights for men and not for women, to me there is a clear reason for why the weights of women are not published. Unfortunately women in general have been held to an unhealthy and unrealistic standard of what society deems is beautiful in this and many countries. Typically the thinner the woman, the closer the woman conforms to the ideal image of what society has deemed beautiful. With this intense pressure to be a size zero, when the average size is an eight, eating disorders including bulimia and anorexia, have reached epidemic proportions. Eating disorders also affect men but to a lesser degree. In working with many students and student athletes, they are under tremendous pressures and to have something so personal like weight listed as a public news item,it can be very damaging to someone who has body image issues or an eating disorder. And there are some people that might not care..Like I said in my first statement, I don't see weight as a relevant issue to list for basketball players, regardless of sex.