Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Two Women Walk Into A Bar

Dead Fish, Outer Banks, NC, 2005

This morning on the radio, journalist Jeanne Marie Laskas was being interviewed, she of the 'GQ' article that lead to her book, 'Concussion', exposing the horrible truth behind traumatic brain injuries in football, and it occurred to me that two of the most important exposes that have been investigated and reported on football have been conducted by women.  Why is that?  In 2012 when Sara Ganim wrote a series of articles for the 'Patriot-News' newspaper out of Harrisburg, PA exposing the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal, many local sportswriters, all of whom were male, took to the airwaves on a Pittsburgh sports radio station to complain that they'd heard the same rumors about Sandusky that Ganim had, but couldn't follow up on them because they'd be banned from Happy Valley.  Some went so far as to say that Ganim didn't deserve the Pulitzer Prize that she'd won for reporting because she was an investigative reporter reporting on a sports scandal - which is utter and complete nonsense, and reeks of more than a little sour grapes.  But the more important issue is that these men had heard the very same rumors of child sex abuse at Penn State and chose to do nothing, lest they be denied access to the Penn State football program.  It's astounding to think that anyone would be able to ignore such accusations.
As the Will Smith starring movie version of 'Concussion' will be released later this month, there is once again a woman behind the big reveal, exposing the deadly long term effects of playing football.  I think it's fascinating to further note that the forensic neuropathologist who initially discovered CTE was a Nigerian, someone who wouldn't have any connection to, or adoration for, American football.  He could go into his work with a mind free of any bias.  I point this out because it seems that football does elicit strong feelings in the American population, both male and female.  I'll admit that I used to love football, on all levels, but that started to change several years ago, and changed forever after the Steelers QB was accused of rape.  I just can't get excited about the guys on the field any longer, but the worship of football is still shared by many who are not me.  Crazed fans cram stadiums from sea to shining sea every weekend in the fall.  All of those asses on the bleachers mean big money for both college and professional football.  BIG MONEY.  And all of that money doesn't like scandal, or inconvenient truths about permanent brain damage, or anything that doesn't fit into the furthering of their brand.
I can't answer why no men have taken up any of the biggest investigative stories regarding football in this country, maybe they feel as if they still have too much to lose professionally even if they aren't on the sports beat.  Thank God for the Ganims and Laskas out there carrying the torch, lighting the way in journalism. 

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