Everyone in sports is subjected to harsh criticism on social media, but there is a double standard when it comes to how people respond to that criticism.
Often fans and critics take to social media to blame anyone and everyone responsible for the team’s loss.
After the Cleveland Browns’ loss in week nine, Browns safety, Jermaine Whitehead took to Twitter and went on a tirade of responding to comments and hate with extreme violence and racism.
One comment was tweeted by Browns’ Radio analyst Dustin Fox. He called out Whitehead’s performance on Twitter saying “Whitehead’s efforts tackling today is a joke #Browns.” Fox’s job as an analyst is to talk about how the game was played and about the players’ performance during the game. Whitehead’s racist and violent response toward Fox was over the top.
Whitehead took to Instagram apologizing for his performance and seemingly justifying his
Twitter meltdown in his post saying “They tell you to take the high road, when yo whole life you was taught to meet fire with fire.”
What a soft response!
As a woman, I take great offense to Whitehead’s response. Women in sports take so much abuse on social media. Athletes are called out for their appearance, ability, and emotion. Female sports reporters are constantly battered for having an opinion about sports even though it is their job to have an opinion. Women in sports are constantly questioned about their understanding of the game and take major heat on social media because of it.
In 2016, ESPN’s Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro participated in a campaign called More Than Mean through Just Not Sports on YouTube. Fans read mean tweets to Spain and DiCaro to highlight what women in sports go through on a daily basis. Spain and DiCaro listened to misogynistic tweet after misogynistic tweet with poise. The men, who didn’t write the tweets, broke down and apologized as they read them.
If these women can sit and listen to these awful comments day after day, Whitehead should be able to handle a few tweets calling him out for not doing his job right and have the smarts to not respond.
Women sometimes have no choice but to ignore these comments and not fight fire with fire. If they responded with as much hate as Whitehead, they would lose their jobs and their careers.
Whitehead’s official apology was soft cop-out. Whitehead said “My choice of words did not reflect who I am, but only what I was feeling.” It is not fair that he apologized this way. Players’ words are still a part of who they are. Players cannot let those few people who say what they want on social media affect them. Every person has feelings, and there are consequences to how a person expresses those feelings.
Whitehead was released from the Browns following his actions. Unfortunately, I do not think
this is the end of his career. He probably will get another opportunity to play in the NFL.
If he were a woman, his career would be completely over.
In the words of ESPN’s Elle Duncan, “Woman Up!”