If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for? – Hamilton, “The Room Where It Happens”
This year, I’ve started to get into the concept of “getting paid to write things.” So far, it’s been awesome. I’ve seen my work published in the Hartford Courant and on websites such as Hello Giggles and Upworthy. I have a lot of teachers who have been instructing me along the way – one of my oldest friends was a journalism major at UConn and she currently teaches courses on communications, and one of her biggest pieces of advice to me was “Always be aware of context.”
This seems particularly apt today. I was driving to work and was parked in the garage, gathering my things, when a friend of mine texted me the latest editorial from Courant writer Colin McEnroe. The article proceeded to conflate the recent remarks made by my Dad and the actions of Luke Gatti, aka, “Drunk Asshole At UConn Who Really Wanted Mac and Cheese” guy (look for an article about that, written by me, coming soon to Hamilton-Griffin!). The article basically stated that the words and actions by Dad and Luke Gatti are coming from the same place in the soul, and one guy is being defended while the other is being arrested. He also called Dad an “invective spewing troll”, which, to be honest, is a great insult.
Once I stopped crying (not kidding; I put the phone down and sat in my car and sobbed because, yes, I’m a 30 year old woman, but that’s my Dad, man), I got really, really angry.
I don’t even need to tell you how this article got it wrong. But I’m going to attempt it. Because as a journalist, a writer, and an all around human, I need to clarify how this article gets things wholly off.
- On the “Women who bitch and moan that there’s no attention paid to women’s basketball aren’t lining up to buy tickets” comment: I have several friends my age – several female friends – who go to a ton of sporting events a year. They don’t go to any female basketball games, or really any female athletic events. Yet, they complain about the lack of attention paid to female sports. As a feminist, I feel that this is a bad move. We as women need to pay more attention. We don’t tap into our power because we are taught we don’t have any. It shouldn’t take a goddamn 60 year old man to call us out on our false feminism. Five years ago I dated a guy who told me, to my face, that he didn’t give a shit about women’s sports. And yes, athletes such as Serena Williams and Ronda Rousey are straight up killing it and that’s fantastic. But they are the exceptions to the rule. And the fact of the matter is, I’ve heard male friends of mine refer to the WNBA as “dyke league.” (Wait. Former male friends. That’s better.) The media won’t pay attention if we don’t.
- On the “Some of our fans are so goddamn stupid it’s unbelievable” comment – They are. Not all of them. Not by a long shot. But a subsection of our fanbase simply refuses to go to the games because they’ve gotten bored. They feel entitled. They feel indolent because we win all of them. They leave the games before they’re over. (I know, I know – the traffic out of Storrs blows, and this is a way to avoid traffic. I completely understand that argument. But it just doesn’t look good!) In this way – and I know this is a surprise – Dad is actually calling out the type of culture that breeds people like Luke Gatti. Entitled, spoiled people who want what they want and rage when they don’t get it. THAT is the culture we should be concerned about, not the people who are demanding we see the emperor as he really is. And that is who Dad is pointing his verbal trigger at. He’s probably seen the video because he’s more obsessed with the Internet than I am (…seriously) but I bet he looked at Luke Gatti swinging and swerving his way through the Student Union and thought to himself “that kid is everything that’s wrong with our culture today.”
- COMPARING MY DAD TO LUKE GATTI. LIKE. WHAT.
If you watch that video, you do not see someone making rational, thought-out points of view regarding gender biases in sports, or trying to be inflammatory for the sake of sparking a conversation, or even someone who’s trying to make jokes and perhaps falling flat in portions. You’re watching a young man, clearly told from a young age (by his parents or by culture or by whoever) that the only thing that matters in this life is him getting what he wants. Now. No exceptions. And anyone else in his way should be shoved, spat upon, or called a f*ggott (or, in the case of his arrest at UMass-Amherst, a n*gger).
My father, for all of his faults, is why the University of Connecticut is the way it is today – a top-flight research institution with some of the best funding in the country. He is also the type of guy who starts something like the Sandy Hook Scholarship program, no questions asked, two days after a massive tragedy rocked our state, because that’s the kind of guy he is. You will never see him bully someone because, unlike synaptic brain farts like Luke Gatti, he actually wants the game to be better. You will never see a better ambassador for the game of basketball.
Yes, there are times he’ll say things that make my head crash down onto the desk. Yes, I listened to that podcast and there were a few moments where I thought to myself “Oh God, Dad, shut up.” Here’s the interesting thing, though – that podcast is part of the Grantland network. A network that up until very recently was spearheaded by a guy who actively despises women’s basketball and made many comments about his hatred of it (with the exception of D, because she “plays like a man.” Which, if you think about it, is just as misogynist). So the fact that Grantland had my Dad on there in the first place was a gift, because it means they are moving in the right direction, and he was able to reach a lot of people he may not have reached before.
The people who hate women’s basketball are always going to hate it (idiots). They’re going to hate it because they think it’s boring, because they want to watch people dunk. But I would encourage anyone who thinks like that to watch any of the footage from any of last year’s NCAA men’s games, which was like watching a 2 hour rugby match where it was JUST scrums and no action. I don’t want to watch two hours of grown, sweaty men trying to shove their heads up each others’ asses. (I’d be better off watching the GOP debates. BAZINGA.) Give me fluidity. Give me brains. Give me something that’s beautiful to watch.
Dad is trying to get people to watch a beautiful game, beautifully played. Luke Gatti wanted bacon jalepeno mac and cheese and felt no shame about trying to punch a university worker in order to get what he wanted. Comparing the two of them is inflammatory, but almost worse, it’s bad journalism.
Dad at least stands for something. Luke Gatti stands for himself and no one else.
What do you stand for, Mr. McEnroe?
P.S: Also, uh, Luke Gatti wore sweatpants, and flip flops with SOCKS. My Dad wears Brioni ties. He would NEVER.