EDITOR’S COLUMN: It’s not on us anymore

Every woman in sports knows that for every instance of harassment that comes to light, there are ten more women who
have stayed silent.

In the past month, two major names in baseball have faced accusations of harassment, with evidence backing the women’s stories. Jared Porter, the former general manager for the New York Mets, and Mickey Callaway, the pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels, were both accused of sending unsolicited text messages and sending nude photos to women in media. This degrading behavior is not new, and it is not unique. It’s the result of a system that fails to hold men like this accountable.

Callaway’s harassment spanned over five years and three different teams. This behavior went unchecked by those who could have done something because of the toxic culture within sports that does not require action against harassment until it becomes public.

There were other Mets employees who were aware of the situation between Porter and the woman, who was a foreign correspondent. She allowed the communication initially because he was a source, and because of cultural differences, she did not know how to navigate the relationship as he became increasingly aggressive. By the end of it, she had ignored 62 texts and a nude photo. The situation led her to leave the field of journalism and return to her home country.

These women deserve all the respect and support in the world for coming forward; for having the courage to stop the cycle and make sure no other women suffer what they did. These women did not do anything to deserve this, they did not seek out any of this attention. They risked their careers, their reputation and even access to MLB clubhouses to stand up to these men.

This is the reality of many clubhouses in the MLB and it’s not just in baseball. This culture spans all professional sports and will not end from women coming forward and reporting this behavior. It cannot be on women in sports to stop this culture, where they are the victims. More men have to take a stand and consciously make the effort to stop this behavior as they see it, whether it’s their teammates, coaches, managers or other staff.

It’s not just discouraging to read story upon story break about the harassment women in sports face, it’s getting exhausting. It’s getting to the point where we don’t even know what to say anymore. With every day that passes, I get closer to graduating and entering this world, and it becomes clearer the atmosphere I am walking into.

This is also not to say there are not good men in the industry who stand up for the women in the press box or call out their peers’ inappropriate behavior, because there are. But there are also many who, while they would not participate in degrading behavior or speech, may let it slide because it would be uncomfortable to
hold someone accountable.

Just being a good person and not being one of the assholes who harass women in sports media isn’t enough. Men have to hold other men accountable and be an advocate for women in the clubhouse or pressbox, especially when we aren’t around. Some people act surprised when these accusations become public because they wouldn’t have imagined this person would act in such a disgusting way towards women. But what smaller actions or words were ignored leading up to the incidents of harassment? What attitudes towards women were left unchecked because they were just words, or because women weren’t around?

If you ignore this behavior—no matter if it’s a comment or unwelcome advances—you perpetuate it and are part of the problem.

So, to the men in sports: let each instance of harassment you see make you that much more determined to condemn sexist behavior of all levels and make your space one that is safe for women. It’s not an option anymore.