Sunday, May 6, 2018

STILL. ALL. MEN.

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Dear Spike, 
Kelley O’Hara got things started in the seventh minute, scoring on a beautiful through-ball from Amy Rodriguez. It was a thing of majesty.
Diana Matheson, who has quickly become our family’s favorite player, added another score in the 66th. It was one of the best “hustle goals” I’ve even seen.
The Utah Royals’ first-ever win was a hell of a show. And I’m so glad we got to be there to see it, along with 7,500 other soccer fans.
You walked away from the stadium with a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.
And then, this morning, this happened: 
“What do you see?” I asked as I opened the sports section of our local newspaper’s website.
It didn't take more than a second for you to see what I'd seen. “All men,” you said, twisting your face.
“And what about now?” I asked, scrolling down. 
“Still all men.”
Your breathing became heavy. Your shoulders tightened. 
I scrolled down some more. “Still. All. Men.” 
Eventually, we found an article about the Royals there. It was buried between a three-day-old piece about a male ice skater and another story about stand-out high school athletes—some of which were girls, although the photo on the link was of boys. 
In fact, most of the photos on the sports page were of boys. There were 37 photos of male athletes or coaches on that page. And three women.
Three. 
None of this should ruin your appreciation of what happened last night. It was a great win. You know that, even if the people who dictate what media is produced and promoted don’t.
You’re only 10 years old, but you’re already learning that women have been and are being largely marginalized in media of all kinds. They’re quoted less as experts. They have fewer speaking roles in movies and are often cast as sex objects. And, when it comes to sports coverage, they’re so widely ignored that they might as well be non-existent. One recent study even suggested that women’s sports get less coverage today than 25 years ago.
I’d like to say I’ve had a role in fixing this, but I didn’t even recognize it was a problem until recently. And, even worse, I didn’t recognize that I was part of the problem. For years, I didn’t even think about the gender balance of the sources I used in my stories. And when I finally went back to look at that balance, it didn’t look good at all. 
I’m working hard to make amends, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I failed you, too. You have every right to be disappointed in me for that.
You’ve been a soccer fan since you were born. You attended your first game when you were just a few weeks old. You’ve been kicking a ball since you could walk. And I’m glad that you have the opportunity to watch women play this game at its highest level.
But you and others shouldn’t have to work so hard to find women represented, honorably and accurately, in the media. And people like me need to do better.
Much better.
Love,dad

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