The Girl in the Pressbox: The Sports Chromosome?

Few would doubt that someone who “eats, sleeps and breathes” college football should be on the committee for the new college football playoff system. But who ever said anything about a woman not being able to do that job?

Well, David Pollack of ESPN did on national television last week on “College Gameday.” Backlash ensued, as expected. The worst part is, Pollack knew what he was saying was wrong but said it anyway.

So what about those colleagues of his who “eat, sleep and breathe” college football for a living—you know, actually making a career out of it and everything while also sporting an extra X chromosome?

Three fellow prominent college football reporters didn’t agree with his bold statement.

Erin Andrews made pointed remarks referring to the incident, also on national television. Bonnie Bernstein tweeted at Pollack for all to see. Sam Ponder also tweeted about the remark.

So what is it exactly that makes a woman not qualified to analyze college football? Pollack says it’s because she would never have played and therefore, couldn’t look over film.

Maybe the way Pollack sees it, playing a sport is the only way to know it; watching intently and being a lifelong fan of the sport mean nothing. I have no qualms in saying that there are plenty of female fans who can talk circles around some men about college football.

I’m not going out and saying that a woman must be on the committee, but if one is qualified, then why should she be locked out?

Condoleezza Rice was the woman in question when Pollack made his comment. His opinion wasn’t important enough to change any minds though, because the former Secretary of State was named to the committee Wednesday despite plenty of male backlash.

Bonus points to Rice for being a Browns fan. Photo from

Bonus points to Rice for being a Browns fan. Photo from

Pollack wasn’t the only to sound off on the issue, taking a controversial stance. Auburn coach Pat Dye wanted to throw his opinion out there too.

“All she knows about football is what somebody told her, or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television. To understand football, you’ve got to play with your hand in the dirt,” Dye said.

That’s funny, actually, because after the names of the committee were released Wednesday, two others on the list were lacking the experience Dye was so intent upon. Mike Tranghese, a former Big East commissioner, and Steve Wieberg, a former USA Today football writer both lack the experience of playing college football. However, I doubt few would doubt their qualifications to be on the committee.

So what you have here, is a diversity of views. You have a former commissioner, a former writer, current athletic directors, a lifelong fan and plenty of former players. Maybe it’s just me, but I would think that diversity is good on a committee of this weight. It inspires debate and questions. It means plenty of thought goes into the selections and no one gets in for one reason or another. Since when do we want a homogenous group to decide anything with value?

I’m not saying that they should let every woman who has ever watched a football game to be included, but I am saying that there are qualified women out there. When a new committee reforms in years to come, maybe there won’t be a woman who meets those qualifications, but if there is, then she deserves that opportunity just like Rice.

The last time I checked, there isn’t a hormone unique to women that makes them incapable of understanding sports. Or did I miss the lesson in biology that taught us that the Y chromosome is the sports chromosome?

Seeing men who have defended the stance that Rice deserves her new position did give me some hope for the future. One such man was SEC commissioner Mike Slive. That a women was considered and selected is one step forward too. But those that stood vehemently on the other side of the debate were concerning. I can only hope that we continue to make progress in this area. And I’d like to extend a big thank you to those who selected this committee and didn’t falter when public outcry questioned Rice’s credentials.

It wasn’t not up to me, and thankfully it wasn’t up to Pollack or Dye, but really, women have a place in sports. It’s not 1950.

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