The Washington Post

Buffalo Bills column by Jennifer Gish inspires profane, sexist tirades from fans

Bills fans finally have a reason to be excited, but that doesn’t entitle them to lose their morals. (David Duprey/AP)

It hasn’t been easy for women to break the mold over the years, but an increasing number of talented journalists now speckle the sportswriting landscape.

Columnists — male or female — should expect a steady flow of counter-arguments and often visceral reactions to their opinion pieces. But the backlash Albany Times Union writer Jennifer Gish received last week went well beyond that.

The slew of responses came after Gish wrote a column questioning the amount of respect Buffalo’s 2-0 start deserved in the paper and around the NFL. She took a few shots at the suddenly-revitalized Bills fanbase and received much more in return.

On Thursday, the Times Union published a selection of the e-mails Gish received following Buffalo’s thrilling come-from-behind win over the Patriots. Readers attacked Gish for predicting a Bills loss and then went on to slam her for being a female, calling her incompetent and ugly, telling her she needed plastic surgery, and encouraging her to “stay in the kitchen next time.” Many responses included profanity. Here’s one of the more civil e-mails Gish received:

I wish I could lick those smug tears off your face. Go Bills!

So how does it feel to be both a woman and so wrong about football? I guess those two go hand in hand.

You can read the full list here.

Here are Gish’s own words at the end of the post...

“Throughout the country, girls are taking the field with a passion for sports and an unprecedented opportunity to play them. They’re growing up wearing NFL jerseys, watching games and asking their moms to explain the job of a linebacker.

“And maybe someday, when they grow up wanting to be sports columnists — when the inevitable blitz comes — they won’t have to check their blind side.”

Kudos to Gish for standing up to her attackers and kudos to the paper for publishing the e-mails. It’s easy to throw stones behind Internet anonymity, but hopefully seeing those words in print is enough to knock some sense into readers.

The Buffalo Bills are one of the best stories in the NFL season so far, and fans of the team deserve to be excited and celebrate their hot start. But this type of reaction to reaction to a column reflects poorly on the entire Buffalo fan community and reminds us all why we still have a ways to go to level the playing field across sexes in the world of sports.

(H/T Deadspin)

Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.


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