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Schmidt’s ‘Jills’ comment out of touch

If you know Mark Schmidt, you understand what he said Wednesday night was in fun. No harm intended.

It was also stupid and out of touch.

This was the comment that set off a firestorm within the Western New York corridor of the Twitter-verse:

Naturally, Bills lovers were offended, and, just as naturally, Bonnies fans swooped in to defend Schmidt — all while chiding said Bills lovers as overly sensitive.

I am an avid Bills supporter, and couldn’t care less what a college basketball coach or anyone else says about the team I root for. Frankly, any sports fan who reacts the way many Bills fans did to Schmidt’s comments need to get a life – or, at the very least, a worthwhile hobby.

It’s a game, a team. Nothing more. That goes for our beloved Bonnies, too.

It was a friendly poke from a Massachusetts native and huge Patriots fan living in Buffalo Bills territory. Not the smartest thing to say given the audience, but not exactly an egregious offense either.

Now, to the real issue.

What struck me most was the frat boy tinge of Schmidt’s comment. Like it or not, joking about a professional football team playing like women implies the inferiority of women.

That was mostly lost amid the Twitter bloodbath that followed. But not entirely.

No one would have batted an eye 10 or 20 years ago over words like Schmidt uttered Wednesday. Not so today, when females fight with more ferocity than ever for equality in their lives, careers, relationships, and athletics, and when our nation and others are divided politically and emotionally over the issue of gender identity.

Former Buffalo Jills, coincidently, are in a court battle against the NFL and Bills over insufficient wages, being required to make appearances without compensation, and subjection to sexual harassment.

From our own experiences growing up playing youth and high schools sports, we encountered football and basketball coaches who degraded females and compared players who weren’t tough enough to female parts as a means of motivation. “Quit playing like a girl,” was one of the tame refrains coaches spewed.

I’m not so naïve to believe that such female inferiority has been eradicated from macho male sports. While Bills and Bonnies supporters alike felt compelled to defend their favorite sports teams to the bone, a bigger issue was overshadowed among the pointless back and forth.

Unfortunately, Schmidt’s comments Wednesday only serve to maintain the jock mentality that permeates athletics and challenges women in all matters of life.

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