by Angel Maldonado Tejada
I was raised largely by my mother.
At the age of 8, my father took two jobs to ensure that the bills could be paid while my mother focused on housework and raising myself and my amazing younger brother. It isn’t an uncommon occurrence in Latinx households, especially in my family. Of course, there was always the perception that she “didn’t work” and was “leeching off my dad.” In reality, I saw as she worked harder than anyone else cooking, cleaning, taking care of us, and making sure everything in the house was running smoothly. Caretaker, doctor, chef, she was all of that and more. She is also one of the strongest people I know.
When I wasn’t at school, I would spend most of my time with her. My dad and I would spend time together some days after work, but he was usually too tired to do much. It was with my mom that I went to my first sporting event (an event where she almost caught a foul ball hit by David Ortiz). It was my mom that bought me my first Tom Brady jersey. Nobody else in my family was very interested in sports, but it was my mom that tried to support me and my passion as much as she possibly could.
I never truly realized what she was going through every single day. I didn’t realize one of the reasons she stopped working was because she was being harassed at the factory. I didn’t realize that her Hispanic culture considered her inferior to men. I didn’t realize she was still dealing with harassment in the street every single day. Eventually, she wasn’t even fazed by it anymore… and that’s heartbreaking.
We live in a world where everything I just talked about is accepted by far too many people, and this is especially true in the world of sports.
Needless to say, the recent events surrounding the harassment of women in the NFL have absolutely disgusted me. To be completely honest, disgust isn’t a strong enough word. I am, of course, referring to the Washington Football team’s mistreatment of female employees, the arrest of Derrius Guice, and the abhorrent video that circulated Friday of a well known FantasyPros podcaster who sent disgusting DM’s to a woman… and those are just the mainstream news stories that I’ve heard of, I’m sure there’s much more.
Let’s start with the report from the Washington Post last week regarding the abhorrent environment women working for the Washington Football team were subjected to. If you haven’t yet read the report, I recommend you do so and don’t skip anything. Still, I want to highlight a few of the allegations that stood out to me. (All quotes via Washington Post)
- “Michael, senior vice president of content and “the voice of the Washington Redskins.” Seven former employees said Michael routinely discussed the physical appearance of female colleagues in sexual and disparaging overtones. In 2018, Michael was caught on a “hot mic” speaking about the attractiveness of a college-aged intern, according to six former employees who heard the recording.”
- “Richard Mann II, assistant director of pro personnel, who in one text message obtained by The Post told a female employee he and his colleagues debated whether her breasts had been surgically enhanced and in another text message told another female employee to expect an “inappropriate hug … And don’t worry that will be a stapler in my pocket, nothing else.” Mann, who also was fired last week, declined to comment.”
- “Dennis Greene, former president of business operations, implored female sales staff to wear low-cut blouses, tight skirts, and flirt with wealthy suite holders, according to five former employees, including Applegate.
- Former women employees said the first few weeks at Redskins Park also often came with an informal, but invaluable, orientation administered privately by veteran female employees who warned them to avoid certain people and places, such as the staircase near the entrance to team headquarters.
Washington created a culture where female employees had to be warned by other employees of places they shouldn’t visit and people they shouldn’t talk to. In. Their. Workplace. It wasn’t an isolated incident; this type of behavior is clearly part of the team’s culture and likely spans decades. Yet, despite this report, it feels like Washington escaped largely unscathed. Dan Snyder is still the team’s owner, he is suing one of the women involved in the allegations, and news reports on the issue have been overshadowed by other league concerns.
Washington RB Derrius Guice faces one count of strangulation, which is a felony, 3 counts of assault and battery and one count of destruction of property, per Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. He turned himself in to authorities this afternoon.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 7, 2020
Fast forward a month later and Derrius Guice has been released by Washington shortly after being accused of/ arrested for three charges of assault and battery and one felony count of strangulation. The woman was allegedly choked until she was unconscious. His initial court date is set for August 28th. These are detestable actions and he should never play another down in any football game ever again. Yet, I saw people taking victory laps about how their “Guice won’t play more than 4 games this season” takes were proven correct.
On the same day as the Derrius Guice news broke, a well-known FantasyPros podcaster was exposed as having sent inappropriate DM’s to a female Twitter user. The Twitter user, @talliesinyoung, showed the world disgusting DMs and a video from the former FantasyPros podcaster about how he “always gets what [he] fucking wants.” The reaction from the Twitter community was largely supportive, but still, there were far too many men asking for “context” and “proof” that the video wasn’t fake. That’s part of the reason why so few women speak up; we live in a culture where the first instinct isn’t to protect and support the victim, but rather look for flaws.
“whats the context?” uh dude followed me fairly recently, i didn’t follow back, he messaged me that twitter told him to follow me and it better be good, then sent a threatening video at 1 am saying he always takes what he wants and i’m not going to change that. there u go
— 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐞 (@talliesinyoung) August 7, 2020
How many times does this have to happen in the world of sports before we finally take meaningful action? The report coming from Washington was largely met with passiveness and Washington has escaped largely unscathed. I would like to think Guice won’t ever play another down in the NFL, but can anyone honestly say he 100% won’t? Tallie shared that FantasyPros’ “investigation” had not yet included reaching out to her and asking for her account of events. Seems like a pretty important step to overlook, no?
Note: While the employee was fired, not asking for Tallie’s account is just a ridiculous oversight in my opinion.
If you are a man and do any of the following: you are part of the problem
- Do you devalue a woman’s opinion because of their gender? You’re part of the problem.
- Do you objectify women? You’re part of the problem.
- Do you talk about the fantasy appeal of a player after the team’s starter is arrested for domestic dispute charges? You’re part of the problem.
- Do you devalue womens’ professional leagues as lacking passion, hard work, or legitimacy?
- Do you fish for any inaccuracy in a woman’s interest in sports more critically than you would a man?
- If a woman talks about sports passionately, would you call her bitchy? Or bossy? Or butch? Or gay? You are part of the problem
- If a woman plays sports passionately, would you call her bitchy? Or bossy? Or butch? Or gay? You are DEFINITELY part of the problem
- Do you refer to the often successful professional athletes that happen to be the wives of other professional athletes just as “So and So’s wife”, but not by her own accolades?
- Do you believe the USWNT should not be paid equally to the USMNT, even though they have many times the accolades AND revenue?
And I want to make it clear: I am also part of the problem. I’ve joked about the WNBA many, many times. I have also put out polls on Twitter assessing how the fantasy value of players has changed because of domestic violence arrests (whether it be the perpetrator or the player receiving opportunities because of it). I have a lot of work to do, we all do, but we need to take action.
Let’s support women in sports and lift them up rather than put them down. Let’s call out misogyny when we see it instead of looking the other way. Treat women in the workplace the same way you would want to be treated. Think about the real-life impact of women who are abused by partners, and when it comes to the NFL, don’t try and excuse the actions of any player. Stop victim-shaming and don’t accuse victims of “clout-chasing”.
Try to empathize. Imagine yourself in the spot that women find themselves in every day.
Does all of this make you uncomfortable? It should. It’s uncomfortable for me as well. But the truth is, as long as we don’t confront this uncomfortableness, we are complacent and a part of a problem that plagues society. I recognize that feeling uncomfortable is a privilege. Considering how many women are injured, harassed, or killed every year purely because of their gender, any man reading this is lucky and privileged.
Obviously, this problem is far more widespread than simply the world of sports. As I said when talking about Colin Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement, sports have always been a catalyst for change and progressiveness. I truly believe the sports community, particularly the Fantasy Football community, can be a force for positive change in the world and in the fight for equality.
Let’s start taking steps towards promoting the change we want to see in the world. Hopefully, someday, we can look back at sports as one of the driving forces for change in the world when it comes to women’s rights.