Since the creation of Major League Baseball, it has looked to be a Men Only Club – a fraternity where women aren’t allowed. If they didn’t play baseball, how could a woman get it? A place where the men went off to play the game while the women stayed in the stands, fawning over the players and waiting for autographs.
The age-old saying that girls can’t play ball is not just a simple cute quote from a beloved childhood movie – it’s a saying that sticks with the women in baseball more than one could imagine. It leaves a ripple effect that even young girls who dream of playing baseball or working in baseball can feel.
If you haven’t heard, the (now terminated) General Manager of the New York Mets sent explicit photos, including a naked picture of a penis, to a female reporter in 2016. Porter went on to send 62 unanswered texts – including seven photos – between July 19 and August 10, 2016.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Mina Kimes broke the story last night.
The female reporter, a foreign correspondent who had moved to the United States to cover Major League Baseball, met him and began the text relationship while Porter was with the Chicago Cubs. The Director of Professional Scouting began complimenting her appearance, inviting her places, and would ask why she was ignoring him.
In 2017, according to Passan and Kimes, ESPN obtained the messages and reached out to the woman for a report. ESPN did not do so, as the female reporter was afraid of harming her career. She decided to speak up with anonymity, fearing the backlash she could face in her home country.
Porter, 41, was hired as Mets GM on December 13, 2020, to assist and help lead the front office. On January 19, 2021, Steve Cohen announced via Twitter:
Like most situations such as this, the female reporter left her career while Porter’s continued to succeed. When GM jobs opened, many mentioned Porter’s name. He was a hero, a good man according to the baseball industry. Meanwhile, the woman returned to her home country and left journalism altogether, and now works in finance.
This situation isn’t a new thing for women in sports.
The women who you follow on social media for sports-related content have all been victims of some form of harassment. Countless unsolicited direct message requests, endless “get back in the kitchen and fix me a sandwich” remarks, and sexualization on the most innocent photos posted on their social media platforms.
And yes, even I have dealt with this as a woman in sports.
I have witnessed my friends in sports receive death threats for the smallest hot takes in the top four sports of baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. I have witnessed women of all shapes, sizes, and skin color sexualized and spoken to with derogatory terms. And yet nothing changes when we all band together to support one another. Everyone tweets “Support Women in Sports” and then the next day, another woman is harassed, their knowledge in sports is questioned, and yet only half of those who tweeted to support them actually comes to their defense.
Yes I know, it isn’t complicated to sit behind a screen and press send. To those who send these – it’s just a text message, direct message, a reply on Twitter or comment on Instagram. But to the recipients, it is much more. It’s alarming and has left many questioning if they would continue working in such an industry.
I will never forget the time when I posted an innocent video on Twitter. Never once did I think a simple video of me pitching to my father would result in sexualized responses via reply and direct message requests. And quite frankly, it wasn’t the first time and will not be the last time I face such appalling situations in my line of work.
But I mean, come on, do you find it necessary to make such comments? Think about your daughters, sisters, nieces, mothers, grandmothers, girlfriend, and/or your wife. If it doesn’t make your blood boil at the thought of them being treated with such disturbing behavior, you need to take a step back and realize you are a part of the problem.
I have talked with women in sports who can’t even post photos of social media, afraid of what replies await them.
Many test out methods that you would assume should shut down such harassment, yet for some, it only creates an even messier scene. Most harassers get a slap on the wrist, while there are women in sports who are shamed and often turned down for jobs because they didn’t simply take the harassment and sexual advances.
While there are positive responses under Steve Cohen’s tweet, you can also find the negative ones. Just another example of how far away Major League Baseball is from where it needs to be. The lack of diversity and the amount of issues that are swept under the rug within the game you love will break your heart.
I am begging people to support women in sports every day. Not just when it fits the narrative or allows you to get likes or followers on social media. There are too many people who already do that. Do better. Be better.