Dear Sports Illustrated (c/o Michael Rosenberg),
Michael, Michael, Michael… Is it okay if I call you Michael? I figured it would be in my best interest to begin by getting to know the real you before I really begin – considering the position I’m about to take. Because of that, I checked into your background. Your piece on The Marine and The Orphan is absolutely breathtaking, and it helped me make sense of why you were named one of the top ten sports writers by the Associated Press Sports Editors. So, now it’s your turn to fill in the blanks for me… Help me understand how someone with such a strong voice, such amazing journalistic talent, would stoop to the level you did by calling Louisville a “dangerous environment for women“?
When I first read your article, I’ll be honest, there was a fire burning behind my eyes so hot and heavy that I had to reread it – not once, but twice – to make sure I was getting the gist of just what it was that you were accusing. You quote Kathy Redmond Brown, founder of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes, about a visit she took to the University of Louisville nine years ago. Let’s take a second to put that into perspective. In 2006, I (now a senior at UofL) was a 12 year old 6th grader. The movies “Brokeback Mountain” and “Ice Age” premiered. Barbaro won the 132nd Kentucky Derby. Panic! At The Disco, Kelly Clarkson, and James Blunt all won MTV Video Music Awards. Feeling old yet?
Anyway, you quote Redmond Brown as saying, “If I’m a female at that school, and I’m finding out this is happening on that basketball team, it sets me up as a sitting duck. I’m going after that school. It goes back to that culture. These cultures are being set up, and nobody is watching anything. Nobody is supervising. This throws gasoline on the entire fire.” Now let me just stop you there, one more time. Sitting ducks? Really? That might have pissed me off more than the title of your hack job article – and that’s saying something. How do you go from giving the AP reason to say you are in the top 10 in your field to being proud enough of an article as hypocritical as this to publish it with your name associated?
Not only are you going as far as to say that the University of Louisville is a dangerous culture for women, you’re doing it based off the opinion of a woman who founded an organization that targets athletes who visited this campus almost half my lifetime ago. Even better, you’re a writer for SPORTS. ILLUSTRATED. Need I remind you that you’re calling out a campus that breeds a culture of objectifying women in a publication that has a specifically dedicated swimsuit edition? Does hypocritical even cut it on this one, Michael? I understand that Sports Illustrated has some personal vendetta against Louisville (don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten getting snubbed for a cover back in 2013), but seriously? You’ve got some real cojones to accuse, “They don’t even know where the lines are. They don’t care. They don’t even think about it. They see a woman, and they think she is there to have sex with them.” You have a daughter. How do you think Audrey would react to this? Knowing that you work for a company that proudly uses sex to sell magazines while you’re out here throwing stones at a program that has yet to be proven guilty? Knowing that you sold your journalistic integrity for a leg up and better exposure by exploiting a scandal? I love my dad and he is one of my best friends, but I can’t begin to fathom how ashamed I would be of him for doing what you did.
I am a 21 year old, female, senior at the University of Louisville. Have I been in fear during my time at UofL? Sure. I’ve been terrified of economics finals, of crossing 3rd Street in front of Ekstrom library, of walking alone at night. But you want to know something that I’ve never been afraid of? Being a sitting duck for our athletes, or any man on this campus for that matter, to “use whenever and however they please.” I was raised to be a strong, independent woman who can damn well take care of myself. “Sitting duck” isn’t in my vocabulary, so please stop degrading women this way – even if the words are not your own. In addition to being as self-sufficient as I am (and every woman I have met here is as well), during my 3 1/2 years here in Louisville, I’ve met my fair share of athletes and people associated with the athletics department. I have worked with these men in my classes, I have eaten meals with these men, I have been lucky enough to have grown to be close friends with some of these men. Coming to Louisville knowing a grand total of 2 people, I found myself surrounded by a compassionate, kind, protective group of people who had my back – without me even asking. I remember one specific incident from my freshman year like it was yesterday… I was out with a few friends when a male I didn’t know started flirting with me, and refusing to take the hint I was anything but interested. The next thing I knew I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder, and when I turned around I saw a friend of mine who played football with a few of his teammates standing behind me. He proceeded to explain to this boy exactly how a female should be treated before personally seeing to it that I made it back to my room safely.
There have been countless stories like this, both mine and secondhand, throughout my time on this campus. From picking me up (no questions asked) at all hours of the day and night, to making friends with my dad in the middle of Bettie Johnson parking lot, to sharing in my laughs and wiping my tears – I have never met a more accountable and incredible group of athletes, and men in general. Sure, every campus is going to have its bad seeds, the bible even says so. (Thanks, Adam and Eve.) And as for Rick Pitino and Bobby Petrino? We all make mistakes. The biggest message that can be gained from that is how far they have both come. Shouldn’t you be reporting on something current – like Lane Kiffin and Saban’s daughter?
I guess what I’m trying to say is, this is your cordial and formal invitation to come see the University of Louisville for yourself. Right now, today, 2015. Come sit down and meet our athletes, check out our stunning campus, take in some of the other great sights Louisville has to offer. While you’re at it? Take the time to meet some of the men and women on this campus who aren’t involved with athletics. I would be more than happy to give you a personal tour, and introduce you to some of the most welcoming people you will ever meet. Then, I want you to take a step back and truly think about what the culture is around these parts.
If I’m wrong? Well, I guess that would make me look like a real ass now wouldn’t it? But it’s a chance I’m willing to take, because I know I am not. The University of Louisville, and all of the members of this unparalleled family, took me in and changed me into a better woman. They taught me to fight for what I believe in, to go against the grain and to stand up for what I know is right. And after reading your article, it sounds like you could use some of that yourself.
Sincerely and L1C4,