COLUMN: There's More To A 'Dude' Than Football
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013 13:09
During my first week back at Boston College this fall, I found myself standing on the sidelines at Alumni Stadium waiting for the football team to complete its practice so I could track down a player for an upcoming feature. As I stood in a circle with reporters from various other Boston news outlets, I found myself in the middle of a conversation about the preferred shaving habits of the men around me.
Just a week before, I had watched, upon the recommendation of a family member, the 30 for 30 special that told stories of female journalists encountering sexual harassment and resistance when trying to interview athletes within locker rooms. As a reporter for The Heights, I don’t come anywhere close to the locker room, but as I stood on the sidelines, even with people that I knew and trusted on either side of me, I felt for the first time that my gender was painfully conspicuous. I looked down at my nails, played with my hair, shifted back and forth on the balls of my feet, and dreaded the moment when the practice would end and I would have to look a Division I football player in the eye.
Sports editors before me have decorated our corner of the Heights office with, alongside a few snippets of our coverage that we are most proud of, a paper plate that details and commemorates a beard-growing competition and a Cosmopolitan cover that features Kate Upton and Kate Upton’s cleavage.
There are times when I seem to be the antithesis of the traditional assistant sports editor. I wear bright pink nail polish, and at one point handed out a bottle to every other female in the Heights office. Never have I ever shied away from any conversation involving online shopping or Gossip Girl, and I know all of the words to more than my fair share of Taylor Swift songs.
I like wearing pastels and watching Downton Abbey, but you would also be hard pressed to find a bigger Boise State football fan (or Nevada hater) with a dirtier mouth in the greater Boston area. My ESPN.com bookmark gets more use than any other, and I know more about hockey than my boss.
As practice ended and the shaving conversation died down, we all turned to face the field, waiting for our individual interviewees to exit. When I saw Spiffy Evans running towards me, my heart gave a jolt and my cheeks flushed a little bit, but in less than a second, those feelings were gone and I was just another handbag carrying, sandal wearing, long haired reporter standing on the sidelines hoping to catch an interview.
On Monday, a staff columnist for this paper published a column that explored the possible negative implications behind the football team’s “Be A Dude” slogan.
In the column, the writer expresses a view that has concerned many and has sparked controversy on BC’s campus. In his opinion, the campaign alienates female fans and uses sexist terminology when encouraging players and fans to be “dudes.”
As a woman, assistant sports editor for The Heights, and a sports fan who would also characterize herself as having a very solidly established, if not exaggerated feminine side with no desire to hide or belittle that, no matter the situation, there is no part of me that objects to the use of the “Be A Dude” marketing campaign.
Being a dude is not limited to, as the column suggested, being a “big, tough football player.” In fact, in the quote that the author uses, Addazio, after offering what I admit is a dodgy definition of what being a “dude” means with his first couple of statements about being a “baller,” clarifies with a statement that is not only more understandable, but also something that nobody in their right mind could object to.
“Be great at what you are. Just don’t be average.”
That means that Addazio and the rest of the shapers of the #BeADude campaign would be fine with young boys pulling on their ballet tights, as the column offered as a contrary example, as long as they were committed to doing the best that they could in their chosen field. Sure, the “dudes” that Addazio talks about play football, but his definition of a dude stretches beyond tackles and receptions.
To me, any objection to this statement exemplifies a narrow-minded view of athletes. The BC football roster is full of dudes, and many of them do possess qualities that someone eager for a fight over sexism would jump on. They’re big. They’re strong. But that’s not all.
If I have learned one thing from interacting with players, both in an official context as a reporter and on a more personal level as a classmate, it’s that there is more to these dudes than their prowess on the field, and that is what Addazio is talking about when he urges them to exhibit dude-like qualities.
He wants them to be team players. He wants them to be on time to class. He wants them to have academic and personal integrity. He wants them to #BeAnExample, as the column was titled. These definitions are implied in Addazio’s and the team’s words and actions.
As Evans approached me after that first practice, I cradled my notebook, still a bit nervously, not knowing how he would take to being interrogated by a woman. As he began to speak, however, it became clear that Evans had barely noticed my gender. He smiled at me. He chuckled at himself over the intricacies of his personality that he was willing to admit. He stressed over and over again the importance of his family and the bond that he felt with his teammates. He told me about his love for writing poetry.