Despite the fact it’s 2020 and women have occupied prominent roles in sports journalism now for decades, there remain fossils within the sports world always ready to demean and criticize them. This past week ESPN’s Maria Taylor, a rising star who’s a prominent part of both the network’s NBA and NFL, as well as college football coverage, twice found herself the subject of cheap, sexist commentary that absolutely never would have been aimed at a man.

First, a longtime Chicago radio host eventually was fired after he tweeted that what Taylor was wearing in her inaugural appearance as a sideline reporter on Monday Night Football was more suitable for a hosting spot on the Adult Movie Awards, a cheap and vulgar statement that not only impugned Taylor’s abilities, but also her integrity, and even implicitly her morals. Taylor quickly informed the jerk  she was quite comfortable in whatever she chose to wear for whatever role she was in, and that he was happy to check back in the next night and see what she was wearing on the NBA studio show.

No sooner had that nonsense subsided than came another ridiculous controversy, although this one was at least based in some sports scenario. It surfaced that Taylor had left Los Angeles Lakers center Anthony Davis off any of her All-NBA teams. Davis eventually was voted first-team All-NBA by a majority of media voters. Now I personally do not understand that, but that’s her right as a media member. Whether you agree or disagree with someone’s choices doesn’t mean they aren’t qualified to vote.

But Lakers writer Harrison Faigen looked at the ballot, noted who did and didn’t vote for Lebron James and Davis and where they were placed, and tweeted about it. Quickly, the sexist fringe erupted on Twitter, once again revealing everything that’s wrong with that  outlet. There were moronic, vulgar, sexist and racist comments aimed at Taylor, with folks saying she should be “put in the kitchen” among other insults. The response was so vile Faigen eventually not only deleted his tweet, but apologized to Taylor, saying he didn’t want anyone associating him with that type of bigotry, and that he had only expressed his surprise from a basketball standpoint.

Thankfully, many across the sports community expressed their disdain and outrage at this garbage display. Sadly, there were also numbskulls like CBS’ Doug Gottlieb, who claimed a sideline reporter/studio host shouldn’t even have a vote, and that the vote should be restricted to analysts. While that’s ridiculous, it at least is somewhat based on a sports rationale. Gottlieb quickly tried to separate himself from the sexist mob, saying he had no problem with analyst Doris Burke voting on the awards because of her position.

Well, setting aside the fact you can always question particular voting decisions, and Taylor has since acknowledged she made a mistake, it’s interesting so much response came towards a Black woman sports host. Taylor has been outspoken about some negative things she’s experienced at ESPN, something else that has made the “stick to sports” crowd uncomfortable. 

This is an era when Black athletes, commentators, and writers are no longer keeping quiet, nor are they suppressing their personalities or viewpoints to placate bigots who feel certain language, clothing or attitudes are “too Black.”  Maria Taylor’s star is only going to keep rising at ESPN, and for those who don’t like it, inside or outside media circles, tough.