Sports has a sexism problem, ESPN2 host Keith Olbermann argued in this powerful segment from his eponymous program, and it's self-perpetuating. He began by listing instances where women in sports have been targeted by sexist comments. The list is long, rapid-fire, and only scratches the surface.
"By some tiny amount each one of those things lowers the level of basic human respect for women in sports. And sooner or later, there are so many tiny amounts that the level of basic human respect is gone altogether," he says, his gaze trained on the camera and his audience. "Eventually after all the b-words and ho comments and penis remarks and nudity demands and waitress jokes, the most powerful national sports league in the world can then get away with suspending a wife-beater for just two games."
Olbermann's poignant commentary was inspired by the NFL's recent suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. In February, Rice was arrested in Atlantic City for allegedly striking then-fiancee, Janay Palmer. Surveillance footage surfaced of him carrying a seemingly unconscious Palmer out of an elevator, his arms hooked under hers, her legs dragging on the ground.
In May, Rice pled not guilty to third-degree aggravated assault. The NFL announced on Thursday that he will be suspended for the first two games of the upcoming season, a punishment that has been widely criticized as far too lenient. The culture of the NFL and professional sports in general, Olbermann argued, not only permits but encourages the verbal and physical abuse of women.
"The message to the women who the league claims constitute 50% of its fan base is simple," Olbermann says. "The NFL wants your money. It will do nothing else for you."
h/t 22 Words