As a lifelong Detroit sports fan I can give you a long list of my favorite players from the Pistons, Tigers, and Red Wings. But there was one team that was lacking a “favorite” if you will. Of course I recognize the greatness of Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson, and even the most effective 2 minute drill man that I recall ever seeing in Matthew Stafford. Darius Slay was on pace to be my all time favorite Detroit Lion, but sadly he’s moved on to a different trash city in Philadelphia . As luck would have it though, a Big Boy stepped up to fill the Lion shaped hole in my Detroit sports shaped heart.
As I was doom scrolling Twitter the other night, a little flash of Honolulu Blue caught my eye. It was a response by Lions Guard Tyrell Crosby to a critique or even, dare I say, a condemnation, of Harry Styles’ new Vogue photoshoot by Candace Owens in which she called out the former One Direction member turned solo star for wearing a “skirt” and citing that we should bring back “manly men”.
So let’s take a minute to pull this apart if we can. First of all, can I just say thank you to Tyrell? He makes a call out to great women in his tweet. A woman in top business power, a woman in top political power, and the greatest power that a woman has which is to be a great mom and a top influencer from Day 1.
How Noble In Reason
As a self proclaimed feminist, it felt exciting but exhausting to have to once again rely on a man to speak up for us. Look at the tweet above to realize how far we’ve come. But also how far we still have to go.
A month or so ago I actually got to attend (Thanks, Covid) the espnW Women in Sports Summit for the first time ever. For 2 days I sat, virtually of course, in awe of powerful women in sports, business, and entertainment as they talked about how they carved their individual paths to success. I took note after note.
At the end of the day, 3 truths prevailed to me.
#1: Ladies, we are better together.
So many conversations were centered on the idea that the powers to be are designed to divide us. Often it’s because there have only been a few opportunities at any given time afforded to us.
In theater terms, it’s essentially “typing” us to fit certain roles. The powers that be (patriarchy and capitalism) want us to believe that there’s only room at the table for one of us at a time. That we can only be an ingenue. Or a goofy character actress.
But guess what? The times and the “types”, they are changing.
Our opportunities grow by the minute. And we are only as strong as those that we lift up along beside us. I’ve gained more Twitter followers by supporting, uplifting, and retweeting other female voices in sports than any other way. Ingenues and character actresses work best together because they are each other’s hype girls. We don’t get ahead by cutting each other down, but instead by showcasing the strengths that we each uniquely exhibit.
There’s a bit of each “type” in all of us. We are all smart, beautiful, creative, funny, and worthy of occupying our own space without sacrificing one another for the sake of our own success. It’s weirdly the same in sports as it is in theater. Just because someone tells a story differently than me doesn’t mean it’s not worth telling.
#2: Ugh. Men, I hate to admit it. But we need you.
For everything that we can do for each other, you still have a bigger and louder presence in every room that you walk into. If you wonder why men like Tyrell Crosby strike a chord with female sports fans, it’s because they fight for us when we aren’t in the room. It sounds overly simplistic to say that we need you to speak as loudly or louder for us than we do for ourselves and each other.
Every woman I watched over those two days not only lifted up the women who supported them, but also the men. Their dads, grandpas, brothers, and colleagues showed them that they are valid. That they are not less of a sports fan or an athlete just because they are female. They don’t have to “prove” their fandom or knowledge to anyone.
And if you are the guy who feels that they have to secure their manhood by degrading any female sports fan by quizzing them about nonsensical sports trivia then, frankly, I’m actually amazed that you’ve made it this far. Now go kick rocks. It’s 2020. No one needs your added negativity. This year has already sucked hard enough.
#3: Claim your space Ladies.
I know this kind of circles back to number 1, but it bears repeating. We are getting seats at the table. More seats than ever. We often fail to recognize our own worth and strengths. We are so often taught to be “tamed” and to apologize for taking up space for some reason. But let us not forget that we are the givers of life. We are the backbone of society. We are the necks that turns men’s heads. We are the ones that multitask and stress about the image of what it looks like to be a woman, a General Manager of a Major League Baseball Team, a Vice President Elect, a President and CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, and a mom. Often all at once while being judged for how we look while we do it.
We not only deserve to sit at the table but at the head of it. And we do it with grace and calm and the knowledge that even though no other woman has been there before us doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve to be there now.
In a year that has been anything but normal, let’s continue to break norms and not cut each other down but lift each other’s voices when we are in the rooms where it happens. Those actions speak so much louder than words.
In our Turf Writer’s Room fantasy football league, the winner doesn’t get money. Instead, they get a jersey of their choosing. Safe to say that I’ll be getting a number 65 in Honolulu Blue if I win. Thanks, Tyrell. If I may, I’d like to treat you to a coffee or an adult beverage in the metro Detroit area when possible. Hit me up! (And for the love of God please protect Matthew Stafford at all costs).
‘I Have Plenty of Male Friends’
Oh, excuse me, did I just get loud? Does that make you feel uncomfortable? So sorry. EXCEPT THAT I’M NOT.
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