Column: Sexism in collegiate sport starts at the top

Adam Tumino, Volleyball Reporter

Women in sports have always fought an uphill battle. Whether they are athletes or coaches, members of the media or even fans, they are often disrespected or excluded.

It is bad enough when the disrespect comes from male fans or other similar places, but often the disrespect comes from the sports’ organizations themselves.

In college sports, one of the most flagrant examples in recent memory happened this weekend.

Friday afternoon, the LSU football team tweeted out a link from its official Twitter account.

The link was for fans to bid on a package called the “LSU Football Dream Weekend” for the team’s opener on Aug. 31.

The package includes team-related activities, including a pregame meal and two sideline passes. But there is a catch.

“Females are able to participate in all activities leading up to the game. Sideline passes excluded.”

The section of the post including that sentiment has been deleted.

The closest thing to an apology came from Robert Munson, LSU’s Senior Associate Athletics Director.

He tweeted from his own account, saying “We made a mistake and it’s been corrected. Everybody is welcome to participate in the contest.”

The LSU Athletic Department did not reply to multiple requests for additional comment.

Not only did Munson’s tweet stop far short of an apology, it was sent from his account, which has 1,118 followers.

The LSU football account, which tweeted the original link, has 678,000 followers. It also came nearly 48 hours after the original post.

Additionally, referring to the “Dream Weekend” as a contest is misleading. Fans have to bid on the package, and the starting bid is $1,500.

Even though the original post was amended to state women can fully participate, the fact that the exclusion was even considered, let alone included in the post, is bafflingly tone deaf.

LSU’s athletic department had the 14th highest revenue in 2018, according to the data released all public colleges and compiled in USA Today, bringing in over $145 million in revenue.

Still, they were fully prepared to potentially profit off a female fan and then deny them what they believed they were paying for.

Another issue with this is why it was decided that women should be excluded from the sideline.

Perhaps the department was afraid of a female fan being injured on the sidelines.

There are women on football sidelines every game and at every level.

There are female coaches, trainers, media members, cheerleaders, alums and band members on the sidelines often, just to name a few.

Being a female does not put someone at higher risk of being injured or run in to during a football game.

I have only been on a college football sideline twice, so I do not have a wealth of experience.

I am 6 foot 4 and weigh, well, more than I care to admit here.

If I was crashed into on the sidelnes, you would a need a bulldozer to scrape me off the turf.

Also, in my limited experience, sideline collisions do not happen very often.

When players do run out of bounds, there is usually plenty of space for them to slow down. And even if there is a sideline collision, the players are not usually moving at full speed at that point.

Women are not inherently weaker than men, and we need to stop treating them that way. 

But it is not only major athletic programs that lack respect for women, and it is not only female fans who are disrespected.

The problem goes all the way to the NCAA itself, who recently excluded one of the female athletes it represents.

On March 21, 2019, Murray State star Ja Morant had a triple-double in an NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game.

The official Twitter account for March Madness tweeted that it was the first triple-double in a tournament game since Draymond Green in 2012 when was at Michigan State.

However, Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu had a triple-double in a women’s tournament game in 2017.

The term “March Madness” refers to both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

Clarifying that Morant’s achievement was the first in the men’s tournament since 2012 would have celebrated his accomplishment without slighting another athlete.

This was especially egregious considering that Ionescu is the NCAA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles for any basketball player, male or female.

She has 18 so far and will be returning to Oregon for her senior season this year.

It is bad enough that female athletes and fans have to push through sexist nonsense from random people.

When the sexism comes from the very organizations that control the sports themselves, though, it only proves how much work we have left before women are fully accepted and welcome in sports.

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]