Yesterday, Carolina Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton, made a gaffe that he probably wishes he could take back. Jourdan Rodrigue, a sports beat writer for The Charlotte Observer, was asking a question to the NFL superstar about the physicality of running routes, when he said aloud: “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.”
Although Newton may have thought it to have been funny, which gave cause for him to audibly express what was on his mind, the cringe-worthy opinion was best left unsaid. He may have gotten away with it later on, around friends, while having some locker room talk.
It is possible that Newton may have meant to be more tongue-in-cheek. Nevertheless, in this “everything can be sensationalized” climate that we live in, the superstar quarterback made it easy to provoke the ire of Rodrigue and many others.
This one statement has been deemed sexist and it has now cost him a sponsor.
As much as his remark might lean toward or appear to be an example of male chauvinism, it may be more that he has not been encouraged to be more thoughtful in his answers during press conferences. Any person can say what they want, but every person (especially our more famous citizens) better comprehend that you may have to pay for being blunt or flippant with any comment that you make.
Another point that makes the remark foolish is that it seems to show Newton presuming that women would not have any clue about the X’s and O’s of his sport. If he honestly holds this actual belief, then he should think back to the number of women that are not only in sports, but are analysts and reporters. One could easily think back through his career and ponder if he has never had any interaction with one of the opposite sex about football.
But, if nothing else, he should have just considered the fact that Rodrigue asked the question. Therefore, any individual would assume she must have some idea of what she is talking about in order to actually pose the question as she did. Why would a person be asking you any question, sitting in a press conference presumably around other sports writers, and not have an inkling of what they are there to do? It just does not make logical sense.
One analyst made the point that he should have made “an early, sincere apology” to keep things from escalating as they have done in the last 24 hours. Again, in the times in which we live, anything and everything can become scandalous in a matter of moments, especially with how people can get carried away with their opinions on social media. Any utterance or action can become viral. So, if any expression you make is not within the current consensus of opinion regarding any particular issue, especially in the realm of politics, religion, or culture, you may have to pay the piper.
Free speech is a grand thing; however, free speech as a right does not mean you get to leave without emptying your pockets every time.
So, is Newton actually guilty of sexism or is just lacking the thoughtfulness that it takes to manage press conferences as a mature professional? I don’t know. However, if I had to guess, the loss of money will surely bring helpful reminders for future run-ins with female professionals. Or it should.
Editor’s note: Fortunately, during the evening of October 5, 2017, Cam Newton gave this apology.
Originally published on The Daily Nerv – October 10, 2017