Gene Wilder always reminded me of the opening line of the Rafael Sabatini novel Scaramoush: "He was born with a gift for laughter and a sense that the world was mad." No one captured that madness better than he.
Part of the unstated job description for a woman in sports seems to involvedealing with serious forms of online abuse—harassment that often extends well beyond the innocuous jab and into violent, misogynistic threats. It's a well-documented problem, but that doesn't matter. It's a near daily reality for far too many women working in sports.
A new video featuring Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro, two well-known professional sports reporters, brings the issue to the forefront. They gathered some of the tweets they had received on the job and asked a few men to read them back. Here are a selection of those messages:
"One of the players should beat you to death with their hockey stick, like the whore you are."
"This is why we don't hire any females unless we need our cocks sucked or our food cooked."
"Sarah Spain is a self-important, know-it-all cunt."
"Hopefully this skank Julie DiCaro is Bill Cosby's next victim. That would be classic."
The men in the video appear visibly struggling to recite the disturbing language other men have directed at Spain and DiCaro. "I don't think I can even say that," one man says. "I'm having trouble looking at you when I'm saying these things," another says.
The video ends with several of the men apologizing for having anything to do with bringing back the tweets. They are clearly taken aback with the material they've just read. As for Spain and DiCaro, they sit nearly silent; their familiarity with the experience didn't make it any easier to handle.