Misogyny is never okay.

While racism and homophobia are rightly denounced in sports, misogyny somehow gets a free pass. It’s bad enough when you have to hear it from fans, but when established organizations flaunt it, it’s doubly horrible. This summer we’ve seen this play out on numerous occasions in sports. Here are a couple notable instances.

  1. Warrior complains about Title IX

Warrior is a sports equipment and apparel company, notably for lacrosse and hockey. Last month, with the World Lacrosse Championships being broadcasted on ESPN 2, Warrior took to Twitter to complain about their sport playing second-fiddle to college softball, which was simultaneously airing on ESPN. They sent out “Does anyone else find it laughable that Softball is on ESPN1 & #WorldLax is on ESPN2? #TitleIXProblems.” When the outrage poured in, Warrior only dug a deeper grave, adding, “To clarify one of our tweets: There are 375 Women's Lacrosse teams in the NCAA compared to 296 Men's Teams. #Inequality #TitleIXProblems.” It was a tremendous amount of shortsightedness shown over a genuinely minor issue, not to mention a case of casual misogyny broadcasted to thousands online just for a laugh (which fortunately didn’t go over well). It was simply disrespectful and completely misguided. 

  1. Ray Rice

The Ray Rice situation could be a case study in and of itself as to how you don’t handle domestic abuse perpetrated by an employee. First, there was the May press conference, which the Ravens unfortunately live-tweeted and participated in victim blaming, addressing the incident when the video leaked. The NFL responded by “dropping the hammer” on Rice with a mere two game suspension. As has been pointed out, the automatic suspension from the league for testing positive for Adderall is four games. Ray Rice wasn’t found guilty, but he was videotaped. I’d also like to add that in 2010, Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games after being charged with sexual assault (which was later dropped). Ray Rice, just two games. How did Rice manage such a small penalty? His wife, Janay Palmer, pleaded with NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell on Rice’s behalf. This would be unacceptable in the legal system, yet it was perfectly okay here for some reason. Then, there was the team’s attempt to garner sympathy and show how well-liked he was, oblivious to the gravity of the situation. When ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith suggested that maybe Janay Palmer was culpable for the situation, he was rightly slammed, even by a coworker – typically a no-no for ESPN. Fortunately (for them) ESPN did not take action against Beadle. As for Smith, ESPN’s response was to encourage viewers to tune in to his next show…as if it was a scripted program.

The above examples are regrettable because of their subject matter, first and foremost. But what’s also present here are organizations almost openly admitting that they aren’t concerned with a segment of their customer base. In 2014, women are as much a part of sports as men. That these companies fail to recognize that costs them, if not financially, then in the court of public opinion. The lesson here is simple – don’t alienate the people that you market your product to by offending them.