Women in sports media, circa 1956

November 13, 2013
(Via the archives)
(Via the archives)

Normally I would avoid the topic of Damon Bruce, the San Francisco sports-radio host whose inane rant about women in sports media got him suspended from KNBR for two days. I’m all for milking the inane rants of sports-talk radio hosts — see here, obviously — but a San Francisco host talking about Miami isn’t really my side of the street.

But I just so happened to be reading an old copy of The Washington Post from 1956, and lo and behold, I found a sports column on the very same topic.

If you haven’t been paying attention, here’s what Bruce said, via Deadspin:

I enjoy many of the women’s contributions to the sports—well that’s a lie [lauging]. I can’t even pretend that’s true. There are very few—a small handful—of women who are any good at this at all. That’s the truth. The amount of women talking in sports to the amount of women who have something to say is one of the most disproportionate ratios I’ve ever seen in my life. But here’s a message for all of them….All of this, all of this world of sports, especially the sport of football, has a setting. It’s set to men….This is guy’s stuff. This is men’s stuff. And I don’t expect women to understand men’s stuff anymore than they should expect me to be able to relate to labor pains.

 

Now here’s what Post columnist Bob Addie wrote, back in ’56. He was prompted by the news that Clark Gable was bidding to buy the Detroit Tigers. His resulting column had lots of bad jokes about Hollywood, but also lots of bad jokes about women. From the column:

Maybe Gable will spend more time in Detroit, and if he does, it would open up fascinating possibilities. The Tigers theme song probably will be ‘Every Day is Ladies’ Day to Me.’ What chance would a poor male have trying to get into a ball game where the ladies are fighting their way through? Have you ever attempted to get through that solid line of women converging on a department store sale?

It happened to Turk Edwards, the old Redskin tackle, a few years back. This was when nylon stockings were at a premium. The Redskins were playing the Lions in Detroit, and Turk and several other huskies, including Jim Barber, another tackle, heard of a sale in Windsor, Canada, which is across the river from Detroit.

Turk and his gallant band never had a chance. Thrust back three times by the determined dolls, they emerged bloodied and bowed and fled in terror. The Chicago Bears were never like that.

The prospect of the gals going berserk over Gable would bring about some interesting changes in baseball….One hesitates to think of what would happen to our ivory towers commonly known as press boxes. Whoever heard of a lady reporter being left out in covering a movie star?

As you may not know, the baseball press-box is one of the last ramparts of masculinity. It’s not that we don’t like gals; it’s just that, thus far, we’ve managed to keep the female reporters out and we’ve gotten away with it, too.

We mumble something about women’s place being in the home and such, but it’s sort of a Pyrrhic victory by now. The ladies are in everything, including barbershop quartets.

But just imagine the hardships the husbands will encounter in Detroit with Gable at the helm. Detroit is a workingman’s town, and there will be many a busted home because supper isn’t ready when the old man comes home from putting those fancy new cars together….

How come Marilyn Monroe and Gina Lollobrigida don’t buy into baseball? Why can’t the male fans get a break. Unfair, that’s what.

Be nice to me, writers 57 years from now.

For more on Bruce, see Will Leitch, Amy K. Nelson and Megan Greenwell.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Lindsay Applebaum · November 13, 2013