Katie Nolan and Women in Sports

Normally, I write about the MLB in some way, shape, or form, but today I want to address a recent article written by Jason Whitlock about “Katie Nolan and white privilege.” I know I don’t have the social media following for my thoughts to really have much of an impact on the conversation, but nonetheless I believe it’s important for me as a guy to advocate for women and their having a place in sports and any other industry they want to be in.

What Happened Here?

Essentially, Whitlock likes to have controversial takes, and he gets a lot of traction on his site because of it. He’ll write articles about “the liberal media” or the intervention of politics in sports in order to appeal to a more conservative audience. Sometimes, that leads to ideas that seem a little out of place.

This particular conversation started with a blog post he wrote about NBA Countdown host and sideline reporter Maria Taylor. Whitlock claims Taylor’s risen to her place in the sports industry because of her “beauty privilege.”

“Jason Whitlock at age 33, 43 or 53, could not get any of the jobs ESPN has handed Taylor. Neither could a long list of highly qualified female sports journalists who I will not name.”

He follows this with a jab at Nolan, saying, “Beauty transformed Katie Nolan from bartender to seven-figure personality, Emmy Award-winner and the darling of aroused bloggers and TV critics willing to ignore her pedestrian humor and inability to execute live television.” Whitlock believes Taylor is very talented on top of her beauty, unlike his perception of Nolan, and the article is a warning about “taking herself (Taylor) too seriously” and following in the steps of Michelle Beadle and Jamele Hill, who lost their audience because they claimed all criticism against them was due to racism and misogyny.

Article 2: Electric Boogaloo

Nolan responded to this first article, saying “You’re this close to making an actual point about the expectation of women to not only be good at their job but also beautiful, but actual points don’t pay the bills huh. Keep this same energy next time I see you though.” Whitlock followed up with a second article. In it, he accused Katie of being a product of white privilege and beauty privilege. Apparently, sports media just “decided” she was to become the next big thing in sports journalism without any evidence. He criticized every aspect of her career, and stated that everyone pretends she’s funny because they don’t want to be thought of as sexist.

My Thoughts

Firstly, let me say that I do, in fact, think Katie Nolan is legitimately very funny. Both on her show and her podcast, too. “Sports?” was actually the only sports podcast I was listening to for a while. I thought of her and her cohosts as funnier than most others I came across. She has great timing and wit, and that doesn’t come from “just reading words on a screen.”

Further, most of her humor is directed at younger audiences, so I can see why Whitlock and others don’t understand it. That said, claiming that everyone is pretending she’s funny because they don’t want to be seen as sexist seems a little far-fetched to me, especially when Twitter in particular is notorious for dragging people for being unfunny, regardless of who they are. This seems to me to be just another controversy so Whitlock can remain relevant in the sports world.

In terms of women as a whole in the sports world, I think Nolan makes a good point in her reply to the first article. There’s a reason all the women in sports are conventionally attractive while no one cares what the men look like. No one is commenting on how attractive Chris Collinsworth or Joe Buck are. But we have this perception that women need to be gorgeous in order for men to listen to them. This excludes all but a small percentage of women who know a lot about sports from actually getting jobs in the industry because they don’t have “sex appeal.” It’s something that needs to change. But attacking women like Katie Nolan is not the way to solve this issue.

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– Pat Shuman (@PShu1996 on Twitter)

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