Normalize Male Athletes Comparing Themselves to Women's Sports Stars

Kyle Koster
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks did the thing again yesterday where they make sickos at home say 'well, I'd like to see ol' Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll wriggle their ways out of this one' before easily wriggling out for a victory. Perhaps this flair for the dramatic is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of how time works.

After leading his team down the field for yet another game-winning drive, the unflappable quarterback explained his capacity for clutch play this way, while wearing a Sue Bird jersey.

Bird is fresh off winning her fourth WNBA championship. She shows minimal signs of slowing down at 39, and is one of American sports' most decorated champions. It makes all the sense in the world that Wilson would draw inspiration from her play and strive for her winning pedigree. It should be a rather unremarkable thing to say.

But it's not. Because candidly, I noticed it. Noticed a male player idolizing and emulating a female player. LeBron James has been similarly complimentary and supportive of Bird and other WNBA stars for years, in turn bringing more attention to the game.

The stark realization is that this is the least these guys can do. Yet so many male sports fans of so many generations never once saw this type of modeling behavior from their sports stars. It perpetuated a blind spot. A void perfectly capable of being filled by any number of women doing spectacular things.

I am certainly one of them. Reflecting on how incurious and indifferent I've personally been toward women's sports in general is a bit embarrassing. A large part of that is my fault, regardless of external factors.

That is to say, I am hopeful that Wilson's comments or James' tweets weren't remarkable to more thoughtful people than me. And that I found them so would be laughably oblivious to my kids and their friends. That this blog post will look stupider in 10 years than it does now.

It still makes a difference. Because some people need to have their eyes opened wider and otherwise well-meaning people may not even realize their biases until what has historically been one-way praise begins to become a two-way street.