Cam Newton and Sexual Discrimination in Sports; Player Apologizes for His Choice of Words

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Cam Newton via Vibe

Carolina Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton apologized for his choice of words. During a news conference, Charlotte Observer beat reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue asked the quarterback a question. Newton laughed and responded, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes like… it’s funny,” according to ESPN. Despite his apology, Newton lost a major sponsor.

Actually, Dannon Oikos Yogurt is the first major sponsor to relinquish its contract with Cam Newton. The spokesperson for the Yogurt company said they are no longer using him in its commercials or advertisements. The company would begin pulling the ads immediately.

However, Newton understood he made a mistake and issued an apology via social media. Carolina’s coach, Ron Rivera agreed and said his quarterback “made a mistake.”

Newton’s Apology via social media: Newton takes full responsibility for his comments.

Moreover, his apology is very sincere. Per Jeff Haden, Newton’s written apology.

“After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women. To be honest, that wasn’t my intention. If you are a person who took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize to you.”

Additionally, Newton encourages the youth to be better than him by stating:

“I’m a man who tries to be a positive role model in my community and use my platform to inspire others. I take ownership to everything that comes with that, and what I did was extremely unacceptable.”

“I’m a father to two beautiful daughters, and at their age, I try to instill in them that they can do and be anything that they want to be. During this whole process, I’ve already lost sponsors and countless fans, and I realize that the joke is on me. I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this. To be young people who see this, I hope that you learn something from this, as well. Don’t be like me. Be better than me.”

Lastly, he expressed remorse and asked for forgiveness.

“To the reporters, to the journalists, to the moms, the super-moms, to the daughters, the sisters, and women all around the world, I sincerely apologize and hope that you can find the kindness in your heart to forgive me.” 

The Consequences of Losing a Sponsorship 

Newtown’s statement may reveal that he has already lost more than one sponsorship. Many athletes are paid by the league, however, they make additional money from product endorsements.

“The most famous and well-regarded athletes score lucrative contracts by lending their celebrity to corporations who want the public to associate their brands with an athlete’s image,” according to Andrew Lisa.

Many athletes sign contracts with sponsors. Usually, there is a moral clause to protect the company’s reputation.  That is why it isn’t a surprise that Dannon Yogurt issued a statement announcing the release of Cam Newton.

Per TMZ, “We are shocked and disheartened at the behavior and comments of Cam Newton towards Jourdan Rodrigue, which we perceive as sexist and disparaging to all women. It is entirely inconsistent with our commitment to fostering equality and inclusion in every workplace. It’s simply not Ok to belittle anyone based on gender.”  

Newtown has worked with Oikos yogurt for years. It is unclear how much his comment will cost him.

Sexual discrimination is one of the most common forms of discrimination seen in male-dominated professions such as sports. For example, there is sparse representation of women as leaders of male teams (i.e., head coach, front office). In stark contrast, men are well represented as leaders for women teams and leagues.

Beyond the institutionalization of gender bias, these norms are no doubt influencing the thoughts of team owners, coaches, and players. Therefore, Newton’s comment, which rings as tone deaf in a press conference is most likely normal amongst his peers within the confines of the locker room. Ignorant statements and thoughts aside, Newton’s comments are particularly strange considering the fact that 45% of the NFL’s fan base consists of women. In other words, women are not new to football.

Furthermore, the NFL obviously has a well-deserved negative image when it comes to dealing with misogyny, domestic violence and more. In fact, Vice reports that just in the past few years, 44 NFL players have been accused of sexual assault, domestic violence, and rape.

Similarly, the NFL is no stranger to sexual harassment accusations or lawsuits. Earlier this year, a former NFL Films employee, Nadia Axakowsky filed a sexual harassment suit against the league. Axakowsky claims she was subjected to regular unwelcome sexual conduct and comments from several co-workers and bosses from 1997 to 2003. Also, Joe Pisarcik a retired Giants quarterback and former chief executive of an NFL alumni association has been accused in a lawsuit of sexually harassing female staff members. The lawsuit, filed in New Jersey claims Pisarcik would rub female staff members shoulders, play in their hair and even smack their backsides.

Sexual discrimination and harassment are not issues that are unique to sports or the NFL. Unfortunately, women can experience this in any workplace. If you ever feel uncomfortable by your co-workers or bosses comments or overt actions then it is imperative to contact a competent lawyer who can tell you your legal recourses.

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