My father was appalled by the way in which school mascots were often feminized for the girls’ teams. My own high school mascot, the fearsome Blue Jay, became the Lady Jay when donned by someone with a uterus. It’s unclear whether he was spurred to such offense by an instinctual feminism or a deep pedantic streak. He had both.
I was reminded of my father while reading ESPN’s sister website, espnW. It’s sports news and infotainment packaged specifically for a woman’s sensibilities. I think it has something to do with pH balancing? At any rate, it’s an embarrassing ghetto maintained by ESPN and given prominent position at the bottom of their webpage, near other hot sections like “Ombudsman” and out of season X Games coverage.
Published in said ghetto this week was an article on why dumb women make the best decisions regarding multi-billion dollar sports enterprises. This is only a slight exaggeration…
The article, written by a Jane McManus, attempts to make the case that we are all lucky to have women presiding over the two most important sports trials going, the NFL concussion lawsuit and the O’Bannon-NCAA antitrust trial. Except, McManus doesn’t applaud women specifically. Instead, she applauds out-of-touch ignoramuses. Who just happen to be women.
McManus’s basic hypothesis is inoffensive enough: outsiders often render better verdicts because they’re unencumbered by the mythology of the subject at hand. Fair enough. But this is about what happens when a bland statement becomes several paragraphs. Chinua Achebe knows…
First, she addresses Judge Anita Brody’s recent fine-tuning of the settlement between the NFL and former players who suffered brain trauma. Judge Brody’s brave work is good because of a garbage joke:
But in January, when Brody looked at the terms of the agreement, she nixed it, concerned that the dollar amount was too low.
Seven months later, both sides applauded Brody’s decision to lift the $675 million cap on compensatory damages. It’s worth pointing out that Brody went to Wellesley for her undergrad and then Columbia for law school, so some people would argue she went to two schools without a football team. (I’ll be here all week.)
First off, both sides didn’t applaud shit. Every party is largely just as happy or sad as they were with the original proposed settlement.
Second, I have no idea which of those two schools is supposed to have the football team.
McManus doesn’t spend too much time on Brody’s contributions which is a good thing because they’re of the impossibly microscopic variety. Moving on to the O’Bannon case, she finds the perfect prop for her exaltation of dumbfuckery. Behold… Judge Claudia Wilken:
Consider this exchange, which comes via espnW contributor Luke Cyphers, from the first week of the O’Bannon trial.
“The game has TV rights?” Wilken asked NCAA witness and former CBS executive Neal Pilson.
“The game?” she asked, more incredulous.
“Yes, the individual bowl game … ”
“The game?” she asked again, dumbfounded.
Listen, I think Judge Wilken is probably damned sharp. And yet, pulling this quote shows Wilken at her dumbest and/or most out-of-touch. Why wouldn’t a game have television rights? Games are all television is these days. This quote doesn’t show a judge ignorant of sports, but rather a judge ignorant of television. The kind of effete elitist we assume all of our judges to be.
As a foil to these beautiful judicial naifs, McManus raises the spectre of these trials reaching the Supreme Court. Where a certain all-the-way sports fan may weigh in:
Clarence Thomas has served as an honorary coach for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Full disclosure: I grew up in Lincoln, but Thomas competes with a lot of my hometown friends for the title of biggest fan. He got interested in the team through his in-laws, and talked about the team with former coach Tom Osborne.
“It was about life, about leadership, about character, about doing what’s right and how you live your life,” Thomas said, according to an article on Husker.com. “He was trying to get all of that into the overall context of athletics, so football really becomes a metaphor for something much larger.”
So Clarence Thomas helpfully reminds us that dumbness abounds at the intersection of sports and law. And if Ms. McManus’s article has taught us anything, it’s that judges aren’t the only sufferers of such stupidity. Lady judges can be just as dumb.