I. The Cap.
There aren’t a lot of competitive black swimmers, for a number of reasons, but wouldn’t you think that authorities in the swimming field would have some sensitivity to their special needs when the situation presents itself? I would, or did, and is often the case, I was wrong.
A women’s swim cap designed for African-American hair, called the Soul Cap (above), is meant to accommodate the thicker, curlier hair of black women to provide a better fit and protect hair from chlorine. Ahead of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo which begin later this month, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) banned the use of the cap, ruling that “athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration,” and that the Soul Cap does not follow “the natural form of the head.” This is, of course, ridiculous, since the number of black women who have competed in swimming events in the Olympics can be counted on the fingers of one hand, so of course the caps break with tradition and common use. Whatever their bone-headed logic, how could the FINA hacks not figure out that such a ruling would appear tone deaf at best and racist at worst, especially in the middle of the George Floyd Freakout?
After the completely predictable (and fair) backlash, now the body says that it is “currently reviewing the situation with regards to ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation.”
There have never been any allegations that the caps confer any competitive advantage. This is how people with dead ethics alarms fuel claims of “systemic racism.”
II. The All-Women Broadcast Team
When the Pittsburgh Pirates fielded an all-black team in September of 1971, even the players weren’t aware of the history-making moment until they looked around the field. The line-up hadn’t been constructed that way to make a point, or to get in the Guinness Book of Records. That was just the best team the Pirates could field that day. “When it comes to making out the lineup,” then-Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh said. “I’m colorblind and my athletes know it.” Similarly, when Celtics head coach Red Auerbach put the NBA’s first all-black starting five on a basketball court on Dec. 26, 1964, it was a decision borne of necessity and the coach’s assessment of the best talent he had available.
But when an all-female broadcast crew handles the MLB Game of the Week Live on YouTube next week between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, that “milestone,” as it is being called, will have none of the legitimacy of those two episodes. It will be a stunt, straight up. Worse, the all-female crew—Melanie Newman, the Orioles’ radio play-by-play announcer since last year, Sarah Langs, a baseball analyst and writer for MLB.com, Alanna Rizzo, who will do the on-field reporting, and Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner, anchoring the pre- and postgame shows—will have been selected not because of their inherent superiority in their respective jobs for that day, but because of their gender and only because of their gender. That makes the team inherently discriminatory, but that’s OK—discriminating against men is just fine these days, just like discriminating against whites. It’s OK because those groups deserve to be discriminated against. This is compensatory discrimination.
There is something else discriminatory about that history-making team. Can you tell me what it is? Here is the group:
Yes, they are all young, all svelte, and all attractive, specifically chosen to appeal to male viewers. (They have also advanced in their chosen field because they also appeal to the men doing the hiring.) A group of middle-aged, chunky, homely women who happen to be knowledgeable about baseball and have good broadcast voices would really be historic. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that milestone.
And not a single African-American woman in sight! Do you think MLB will hear about that? I hope they do. Once you have made it clear that your employment choices are based on virtue-signalling and politics rather than merit, you deserve to be dragged to death on the slippery slope.