The Scrapbook, like millions of Americans, watched last week’s anticlimactic BCS championship. Undefeated Notre Dame was pitted against Alabama, but it wasn’t much of a football game. After Alabama got out to a 28-to-nothing lead, we -wondered if Notre Dame was going to change its nickname at halftime to the Fighting French.
And so the commentators, Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger, were left with little of note to say about the game. Naturally, they spent a few moments dwelling on a welcome distraction—Alabama quarterback A. J. McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb. The Scrapbook was admittedly scandalized when it first learned about Webb, as it could not believe an Alabama quarterback would have the temerity to date an Auburn grad.
As a secondary matter, it must be explained that Webb is also the 2012 winner of the Miss Alabama pageant, and represented the state in last year’s Miss USA contest. Hence, Musburger’s play-by-play: “You quarterbacks, you get all the good looking women. What a beautiful woman.” Herbstreit chimed in: “A. J.’s doing some things right down in Tuscaloosa.” Musburger added, “If you’re a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with Pop.”
The number of Americans offended by this exchange probably wouldn’t fill the faculty lounges of the Seven Sisters colleges. Nonetheless, ESPN’s vice president of communications, Mike Soltys, issued a statement the next day. “We always try to capture interesting storylines. . . . However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far. Brent understands that,” he said. Now that Soltys has clarified ESPN’s hair-trigger alertness to sexism, we assume the network will henceforth swear off low-angled shots of cheerleaders being hoisted aloft and diligently censor the beer commercials it airs.
One person who was not offended was Miss Webb. “I think the media has been really unfair to” Musburger, she said on the Today show. “The fact that he said [McCarron’s mother and I] were beautiful and gorgeous—I don’t think any woman wouldn’t be flattered by that.” Webb’s father even weighed in: “He was trying to be complimentary, and I think they need to give Brent a break.”
Of course, if you go searching, you can find those who took offense. One writer at the website Feministing was able to rise from her fainting couch long enough to commit pop anthropology:
So, now seems like a good time to point out that this bulls—t is part of the rape culture that directly enables assaults. . . . As Travis Waldron writes, “It’s a culture that views women as nothing more than chattel, a commodity to be won by the best player even if she isn’t a willing participant. It fosters a sense of entitlement to women and their bodies that only ingrains the rape and violence culture deeper into the game.”
Silly us. We thought the quarterback getting the beauty queen was a wholesome American cliché. Instead, it turns out we’re all accessories to rape. As for ESPN’s suits, we realize they are not deep thinkers, but they may want to ponder the fate of their profits in a feminist fantasy world, where women no longer beautify themselves and men no longer engage in feats of athleticism to impress them.