Dear Sports Illustrated

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 basedsi-09-435 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.

University_of_LouisvilleThere 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,
Dallas Ann

22 thoughts on “Dear Sports Illustrated

  1. Nice job Dallas! I graduated from U of L in 1992. My husband played football at U of L. We both came from Ohio and I even started my college career at BG in Ohio. It only took a few trips to The Ville to absolutely fall in love with the people and the city. I am so grateful and blessed to have been part of a beautiful community. We live back in Ohio because our jobs took us there but our hearts are always and forever in Louisville. We visit multiple times a year to go to football, soccer, and basketball games to support the student athletes. it makes me incredibly sad to hear the attacks on our programs and even more sad to call women sitting ducks. I hope Michael takes you up on your offer. Way to stick up for university Dallas! Xoxoxoxo
    Michele Gangwer

  2. Thank you, Dallas, for your letter. I am also a proud female graduate of U of L. I hope that many other recent grads will take the time to share their perspective on our University with our “friends” at SI.

  3. Funny no comment on your athletic director’s sexual harrasment suit in which he lost and had to pay the former girls track coach..let’s ask her

  4. You are very lucky to have had that experience at UofL. I am a female who was a student there from 2011-2013. I also grew up in Louisville. Unfortunately, my experience was incredibly different than the one you described above. I lived in Cardinal Towne, right down the hall from the football team. I felt very uncomfortable around them, due to the fact that every time I walked by, it was almost as if they were competing for who could come up with the most inappropriate objectifying comment. When I ignored them, I would be called a “stuck up white bitch”. At one point, I had two of them follow me down the hall and force their way into my apartment and would not leave until I gave them my number. I did, and they left. I was then harassed for the next couple of months in the form of inappropriate text messages, invitations to hook up with them, and offers for free drugs. You stated that you had many positive stories of athletes, I have plenty of negative and even a few horrifying ones. I read the sports illustrated article and WOW the hypocrisy there was unreal. Sports Illustrated should be the LAST organization to be throwing out accusations like that. So I agree with you there. However, UofL felt very unsafe to me. When I heard about the current situation, my initial thought was “Well yeah, I can see that”. I was in no way shocked, which should be a red flag. I was good friends with many of the men in fraternities and I was regularly disgusted by the way they talked about women. I had several friends who were “date raped”. I am currently attending a different university and in my opinion, there is a huge difference in how safe I feel on campus. I definitely would not go as far as to say I was a “sitting duck” while attending UofL, nor would I say that my experience is universal or even typical. I think that if you surround yourself with the right people, you can have an amazing experience at UofL, and I know many students who did. I think that the article by Sports Illustrated is an example of terrible journalism designed to attract readers and the magazine as a whole is trash. I commented not to argue with you and I honestly hope that the majority of women attending UofL have had an experience similar to yours. My sister is currently a Junior and I hope she is as fold of the school as you are. I wanted to share my own experience because unfortunately these things are happening (again, hopefully my experience is the minority) and I hope that whatever is going on can be turned around in a way that benefits and supports all of the young men and women that will attend UofL in the future.

    1. I am a man who attended Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond KY… While there I also visited friends and attended parties and events at the University of Kentucky. Let me just say that the above story is very similar in all its ways to many things that went on tat EKU and UK. And I’m sure these things also go on at most universities. These insidents do not reflect the culture of the city or university of Louisville. However hey do speak volumes about the character of the individuals who violate others in various ways. Let’s remind ourselves that the city or university is not to blame but the individuals. What it comes down to is, unfortunately coming into contact with such individuals at a time when they have the urge to act so unfavorably so to speak.
      I have the utmost respect for any and every women who crosses my path and will defend them however necessary. But I also will defend the city and University of Louisville the same… However, the lifestyle and acts of Katrina Powell in her own personal life lead me to beleive that she should be watched a bit closer and understood a bit more clear. I do have respect for women, and men, but not to a man who violates women, or women who violate women, especially their own daughters. Money is what she is after, and she does not care how it comes. If she cares so much for young men that she comes out with, “my underage daughters were involved in sex with young men” via Katrina Powell herself. Then I have an itch to dig deeper and find our the kind of person she is…… Having said that, no matter where a story like this comes out and/or how. I hope a positive that comes out of it will be the improvement, in some way, of the safety for women on college campuses every where.

  5. From a fan on FB sent to me after mentioning that the jury will be out a long time on this one….”My cousin in law is mentioned by name in the book… yes ma’am A LOT more went on.
    She Been saying it for years we just didn’t believe her
    Her name in the book.

    1. That doesn’t say much about your cousin in law. I think you were right not to believe her. If she is mentioned in the book, then what she says, at this point, is automatically suspect.

  6. I heard your interview with Howie Lindsey this morning! Your letter is very well worded & it looks like you took time to do some research before writing, which would be hard to do when you’re fuming! In glad so many are coming forward to dispute this guy & letting him know how it really is at UofL!

  7. Maybe, readers here are not aware of the fact, according to the current US News college rankings, that each of the state supported schools have more women enrolled than men.
    Go figure. John Little, Sr.

  8. Thanks for sharing your feelings as a current female student @ UofL. I, a longtime CARDS fan & lifelong Louisvillian am offended by this irresponsible article.

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