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I am a sports fan. I share my enthusiasm for sports with my significant other, M. What we do not share is a liking for day-long sports news updates provided by ESPN streaming via the TV in the living room. It’s turned down to a low volume thanks to my numerous pleas. But it is always on. Other sports networks show up as well. M is not an ESPN loyalist. But I am not aware of what the other sports news outlets are, nor do I care, unless the news is about the Pittsburgh Steelers or the broadcaster is Dan Patrick
Over the years, in an attempt to connect with M, or use him as a pillow while taking a short nap after getting the girls off to school, I would join him in watching Mike and Mike in the Morning
airing on ESPN. The show became annoying to me because the hosts, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, were repetitive, lacked in-depth analysis, and in my opinion, seemed afraid to share their true opinions on topics they covered. So one morning, after Mike and Mike, M turned the channel over to The Dan Patrick Show
assuring me I would enjoy the host, Dan Patrick
, much better. The fact that he was a native of Ohio and defector of ESPN also intrigued me.
As time went by, Mike and Mike became completely replaced by the Dan Patrick Show. On mornings when I chose not to be lazy and nap in front of the TV with M, I found myself choosing to do sedentary work on my laptop (in lieu of housework which requires movement) so that I could strategically place myself in view of the TV so as to not miss the Dan Patrick Show. But the day I can say I officially became a fan of Dan Patrick was when his show aired the morning following the weekend that the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal broke in the media
I was glued to the show for the entire week. No napping. No work. Just watching. Dan Patrick’s coverage of the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State was phenomenal. No other show or network, covering sports or headline news, gave it comparable reporting. Dan Patrick’s handling of the topic was intelligent, factual, sensitive to the victims, heavy handed on the alleged perpetrator and conspirators of cover-up, and gave voice to victims of child sexual abuse. In essence, he put down his sports reporting notepad and pencil and picked up a poster printed with bold lettering, “CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IS WRONG.”
As a survivor of child sexual abuse, to me, this was powerful stuff. Typically when stories like this reach the media, controversy and debate ensues that gives more voice to the alleged perpetrators in order to maintain the façade that powerful institutions are impermeable to such horrific accusations. Movement is usually swift in protecting the establishment’s reputation. Cover up is priority. Excuses are mandatory. But this was not the case with the story in the hands of Dan Patrick.
He took time to tell his viewers of the impact that child sexual abuse has on victims—the damage it does to victims' lives for years into adulthood. He would not be moved by callers with varying opinions of Joe Paterno's
status as coach of the Penn State football team. Paterno
knew of the crimes committed and failed to report them to authorities other than higher ups at the university. Dan Patrick bravely stated, “Joe Paterno has lost the right to be the head coach of Penn State.” He even took calls from victims of child sexual abuse, allowing them to share bits of their stories. Callers always ended with an outpouring of gratitude, thanking him for using his show to shed light on a topic that gets swept under the rug far too often.
Dan Patrick is good at what he does. I'd say, he is one of the best. He gives insightful commentary on sports news and couples it with clever entertainment in his banter with his show's supporting cast. He's a stand-out co-host on NBC’s Football Night in America
and was bestowed the honor of presenting the Super Bowl XLVI
trophy to team winning quarterback, Eli Manning. He has also made several appearances as an actor on the silver screen
and I think he’s talented enough to take over for the menacing David Letterman. So yes, I am a fan of Dan Patrick. . .
. . .or was, until last week.
I had been aware of The Dan Patrick Show's Wall of Morale
but had never given it much attention. If you aren’t familiar, the Wall of Morale is an area in the show’s studio devoted to posters of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition
covers. I must have missed viewer competitions from years past wherein votes are cast to determine which poster comes down off the wall to make room for the current cover. But last week I caught this year’s ridiculous hoopla while peaking over the screen of my laptop. And I was angry.
"With great power comes great responsibility."
I truly believe that when one has been given talent they are charged with using that talent and sharing it with the world in order to make change. The change doesn’t always have to be magnificent in the number of people affected, nor does it have to have the impact to be a catalyst of world peace. One's work, even if it changes only one person for the better, is significant. It’s not for the talented to determine if his impact is going to great enough to make a difference. The talented only needs to determine how much fear he will allow to get in the way of his expression.
When Dan Patrick covered the Penn State scandal with such skill and insight he raised the bar for sports journalists and broadcasters. He courageously answered his call and responsibility as a man with talent. He embraced his position of having a powerful voice in the media and used it as an opportunity to raise awareness. His was a shining moment in broadcasting and one in which the world of news media should use as a lesson in ethical and honorable reporting.
Contrarily, for him to devote so much of his show's time to making the decision of which model to keep on the Wall of Morale, making the objectification of women a colossal event, was not only wrong, but a horrific departure. I was deeply, incredibly disappointed. In my eyes, another great voice failed to "go against the grain" and sold-out in the name of a pay check.
- the hyper-sexualization of women is linked to depression and eating disorders.
Dan Patrick has an opportunity to speak on the crisis of the objectification of women in America to an audience wherein the message is desperately needed and to an audience who has his full attention—sports fans. He proved he can make a difference in how people view critical cultural topics during his coverage of the Penn State scandal. In his silly enthusiasm over the Wall of Morale, he succumbed to fear—fear of losing members of his fan base, fear of losing support of SI.comwho hosts his show’s website, and fear of looking less macho to a world full of hot women who he refers to as “shorties” and then jokes about making room for them in his bed.
"Every society has a way of torturing its women, whether by binding their feet or by sticking them into whalebone corsets. What contemporary American culture has come up with is designer jeans."
~Joel Yager, M.D.
One last point. Dan Patrick has a daughter. All I can surmise is that he does not find raising a daughter in a world that objectifies women to be challenging. I really wish I could ask him how he does it. Does he tell her it’s OK to be valued for sex? I bet he does not. And I bet, one day, she’ll identify his hypocrisy and be as disappointed in him as I am.
Kimberly at Sperk*