I’m not even sure what to call the display of dishonesty and posturing that unfolded over the weekend at Vanderbilt. Disrespect for the game and intelligence of fans? Lack of integrity? Incompetence? Dishonesty? Shameless exploitation? Patronizing and insulting women? I’m not sure, but whatever it is, it was all unethical.
Let’s look at the components of this ethics mess (it’s not coherent enough or significant enough to qualify as an ethics train wreck):
1. Derek Miller, the coach of Vanderbilt’s football team, had all of his kickers turn up positive for the Wuhan virus, on game week, so allegedly in desperation, he made Vanderbilt women’s soccer goalie Sarah Fuller the first woman to play in a Power Five conference football game by handing her the job of kicker. She had never kicked a football in a game in her life.
Nobody, literally nobody, believes that there weren’t many members of the team, and maybe all of them, that would have been a better bet to rely upon than Fuller. The team was 0-7 before the game against Missouri—and 0-8 after it, by the humiliating score of 41-0—and the attempt to appeal to campus feminists and woke alumni seems like a desperation move by Coach Miller to save his job. Of course, that meant sacrificing the team’s interests for his own, which is unethical management. Whatever hismotive, it didn’t work: he was fired the next day. In his farewell statement, Miller referenced coaching and mentoring “hundreds” of young men and “one courageous female.” From Tuesday through Saturday afternoon.
2. Sure enough, the coach’s cynical use of Fuller got massive publicity, all positive. Since the team never scored or got within range of a field goal, Fuller got to kick the ball exactly once, to begin the second half. She delivered a 30 yard squibber that gave Missouri the ball on its 35 yard line. The pathetic kick went only 20 yards in the air and rolled another ten before the Missouri team saved face for her by jumping on the ball before it went out of bounds and drew a penalty.
For that performance, the SEC named Fuller the special teams “Player of the Week.” As Kamala Harris has proved, in 2020 a woman can be regarded as a standout by simply showing up. Performance doesn’t matter, just chromosomes.
3. Then Fuller revealed that she had the audacity and bad taste to lecture her team mates for a day on the right way to play football.
Following the game, as she was interviewed by ESPN reporter Courtney Cronin, she explained,
“If I’m going to be honest, I was a little pissed off at how quiet everybody was on the sideline. We made a first down, and I was the only one cheering and I was like – what the heck? What’s going on? And I tried to get them pumped up, and I was like, ‘You guys need to start [cheering] your team on. My main thing was during the SEC tournament, my entire team was cheering the entire time. It didn’t matter if we were in the locker room or if they were on the sidelines, I think that’s what won it for us. Everybody was cheering non-stop. I just went in there, and I said exactly what I was thinking. I was like, ‘We need to be cheering each other on. This is how you win games. This is how you get better, by calling each other out for stuff, and I’m going to call you guys out.’”
I’m pretty sure I know what they were thinking: “How the hell does this soccer player who is only here as a publicity stunt think that its her place to tell us how to behave during a game?” And that’s what some member of the team should have told her after stopping the presumptuous pep talk. None of the men had the guts; I assume they were afraid of being “cancelled.” No wonder the team is 0-8.
Spat a disgusted Joe Kinsey at Outkick,
As for this speech, you mean to tell me that a kicker who was pulled off the women’s soccer team and who started practicing with the football team on Tuesday was given the floor to lecture teammates on Saturday?…Do you think freshman players on the women’s soccer team who’ve never seen the field get up and give speeches to players who’ve given four years to a program? Nope. Not happening. There’s no further debate about this. Fuller was used as a publicity stunt, and it is clear as day ESPN had its hands in it. Don’t be shocked if we find out soon that ESPN had cameras rolling during Fuller’s hero speech.
A kicker giving a halftime speech. Think about this for a minute. Those of you who thought this was a sincere act from a Vandy program desperate to field a team during uncertain COVID times have been had. This is all nonsense.
4. The whole episode turned out to be another example of 2020’s Rationalization of The Year, 64. Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is.” Fuller was being used as a prop, agreed to be responsible for a job that she wasn’t competent to perform, botched it, and then was smug anyway, apparently believing the media’s spin. The SEC, in its announcement of Fuller’s honor as “Player of the Week,” called her botched kick-off a “perfectly executed kick.” Hillary Clinton actually said that Fuller proved “women and girls belong on every playing field—quite literally.” How did fuller prove that? If a junior high school male player was tapped to be kicker-for- day and produced the dying quail that Fuller did, would that prove 13-year-old boys should be playing Power Five conference college football?
Columnist Michael Walsh nailed it:
All of this patronizing nonsense surrounding a bad kick from a woman whose ego perhaps exceeds her abilities on the football field is merely annoying for me as a man. For women, though, it is much worse than annoying. It is patronizing, degrading, and insulting. Are women really so unimpressive and bereft of achievement that we have to treat them like we would a small child who draws a bunch of scribbles on a sheet of construction paper and claims that it’s a picture of a tree? We congratulate the small child for his bad drawing because we do not expect children to do any better than that, and because they are emotionally fragile and in need of constant positive affirmation. Is this the case for grown women? Must we stand and applaud and shout “great kick” when, in truth, it was a very bad kick? Are women so pathetic that we have to call even their failures achievements? Not just achievements — but historic achievements? Is that how sad and mediocre women are, that we must stoop to this?
Answer: no. That’s how sad and mediocre feminists think women are, and perhaps are themselves. But it’s not the reality, and it’s not what I think or what any rational person thinks. Women are capable of extraordinary things in many facets of life. They also are capable of extraordinary things in the realm of athletics. Simone Biles comes immediately to mind. But women cannot compete with men in sports designed by and for men. They cannot do anything they set their mind to. Nobody can. They can do quite a lot within the bounds of possibility, but competing against and with men in a Division 1 football game is outside of those bounds. Contra Hillary Clinton, Fuller did not prove that women belong on every field. She proved the opposite. They don’t belong on a football field with men. And that’s okay. That doesn’t make them less than men. It just makes them not men. And there is dignity and beauty in accepting that.