You’re Asking What?

He has been scrutinized for months now, his accuracy questioned and his decision to return to school second-guessed. He has never bristled, showing the kind of composure that any coach would love to see in the pocket.

There have been fun moments like the ESPN feature with former NFL coach Jon Gruden and his famously intense film study. There have been awkward times, too. Like the interview question from a team that threw Locker for a loop: Would you give your 16-year-old daughter birth control.

“It caught me off guard,” he said. “Maybe it was to see how I would respond.” (Boston Herald)

Well, yes. That would catch one off-guard, wouldn’t it.

This is a guy being drafted into a football team. He will be playing a made-up game that glorifies violence and aggression, and probably be paid very well for it. That’s his choice, I have no problem with that. I like rock climbing, he likes throwing a pigskin for imaginary points. One man’s meat, and all.

Here is what mystifies me: why the hell are “they” (I presume this is a team he might be drafted into) asking him a question like this? The underlying assumption is that he would “give” or “allow” his daughter birth control. Well, if the alternative is a teen pregnancy or an STD, such a move might be considered responsible parenting. Parents are here to teach their children to be adults, and to help kids in the years before their ability to understand consequences is fully developed. (If you even try to trot out the old canard about abstinence education being effective, just stop right there.) I’ve written before about the pervading and pervasive cultural assumption that women are property, passed from their fathers to their husbands in no unequivocal terms. Is this question an outgrowth of that assumption? That troubles me on a meta level, but what troubles me even more is that this is a throwaway line in the middle of a piece of reporting*, obviously considered of little consequence except for its “entertainment” value. (I actually got the link from a Mental Floss tweet.) It’s considered no big deal. The indifference is breathtaking.

My answer to a question like that would be, “What? Why the fuck do you think that is your business? It’s my family’s business, and beyond that, it’s my daughter’s business, and what is a collection of men doing asking about this?” I’m fairly sure I would give whoever asked such a ridiculous, repugnant, invasive question a stinging verbal dressing-down before leaving the room determined never to do business with them again, in any way, since they are capable of (and have no qualms about, apparently) such inappropriate asshattery. This is what I immediately thought, “What the hell is this guy doing, sitting there calmly while a bunch of jerks asks him this?”

He’s a college player, so it’s vanishingly unlikely that he has a 16-year old daughter, or that he will for quite some time. You could argue, I suppose, that they wanted to “provoke” him to see how he would respond on the field. My reply is: bullshit. This man is going to make a living playing a violent game that encourages, facilitates, and rewards violent behavior. A question this stupid, phrased this casually, especially when it’s totally irrelevant because the guy is what, 20?, is not going to give you any goddamn idea of how he’s going to behave after you finish another few years of rewarding the type of behavior football requires and endorses from its players. It’s like asking a llama how it feels about tap dancing–it just doesn’t even fricking apply.

And, I reiterate: the whole thing is just thrown into the middle of a “news” article, like it’s no big deal. Wink wink, nudge nudge, isn’t this funny, the important thing is this guy can play this made-up game and might be invited to play this made-up game somewhere else for a lot of money.

It just boggles the mind.

* However much sports “reporting” can qualify for that name, that is.

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