North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Jock Talk – Radio host says controversial remark about women’s sports, internet outraged

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Maybe by now you’ve heard what Bob McCown said about women’s sports the other day. If you haven’t, here’s a quick primer: speaking on the topic of women’s sports, he said that they’re only watched by men if the women are either “half-naked or good looking” and subsecquently, set the world of sports, media, sports media and most of the Western seaboard on fire.

Okay, maybe not. A quick check on Google has revealed only a few blogs have actually reported on this – Andrew Bucholtz’s Sporting Madness has the best take – but a search of Twitter shows more than a few upset people. “Someone should tell Bob McCown to never discuss women/women‘s sport on his show, because he is clearly incapable of doing so respectfully,” reads one tweet. Another calls it disgusting.

While his comments may be far from classy, they’re hardly unique to him – or his station. Not too long ago, the Fan’s morning show had open lines for women’s sport talk. Almost instantly, the chatter was along the lines of “Hey guys let’s watch beach volleyball, my treat!” and the like (I even tweeted about it! Not that you care.), which is probably par for the talk radio course. I’m not saying this to defend McCown, but I do not think he is speaking ill. Sex appeal is a big part of why television flocks* to skin-friendly sports like beach volleyball or swimming. Take a moment to reflect on some of this generation’s most popular female athletes and how telegenic they are (to say nothing of the ads they reap money from).

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* – I used to volunteer for a local community TV station which broadcasted sports from my college. It was good experience, had free food and a nice cast of coworkers. Once, when we broadcasted a women’s volleyball game, a bunch of the crew started ranking the players attractiveness on a scale from 1 to ten. A camera guy chimed in too, focusing in on player’s asses, getting a barrel of laughs from inside the truck. Every time I see women’s sports on TV, I wonder if the same thing is happening.

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Back in my college days, I used to cover women’s sports quite a bit. I was the women’s basketball beat writer for my college’s newspaper, covered women’s hockey, rowing and fastball more than a few times and even did color commentating for women’s soccer and volleyball once. Spending that much time around women’s sports busted any idea I may have had that women can’t compete.

It’s different than just watching the odd WNBA game and making cracks about how they can’t dunk. When you’re there all the time, one realizes there isn’t as much a difference between men’s and women’s sports. Talented athletes will excel at their sport regardless of gender. Yes, the WNBA only recently had it’s first dunk, but that’s doesn’t make it a lesser league, only a different one.

A few years ago, the Fan aired an ad campaign where McCown sat in an empty Rogers Centre. “I’d like to invite all the people that don’t like me to come down and meet me.” he said, “but the Rogers Centre only seats 50,000.” This is a man who’s radio persona has ad campaigns based around how disliked he is.

It doesn’t take a smart man to realize what McCown said was dumb. Yet is shouldn’t take a smart man to realize the meaning of what he said: he himself probably watches sports where there are good looking women, yes, but it’s also his job to say things to outrage. One could go so far as to say it’s his job to rile people up. This is sports talk radio. Talk radio’s goal is to appeal to the widest group of people it possibly can and especially to stimulate discussion. It’s the same reason why ESPN Radio has a professional troll on staff.

Of course McCown is going to say something ignorant on air. It’s his job to get people worked up.  He gets people mad and when people are mad, they talk about it. And they might even listen again, to see if he recants or says something even worse. And he probably will. It doesn’t matter if he was right or disgusting or both. What matters is that he moved the needle.

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Written by M.

March 11, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Sports Media

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