On Thursday night at 9 p.m., ESPN broadcast a pair of showdowns between the United States and Canada. One, in softball, was on the network’s flagship channel. The other, in lacrosse, was on ESPN2. And to the person handling the Twitter account for Warrior, a sports apparel company that specializes in lacrosse gear, that was an outrage.
First, @Warrior tweeted, “Does anyone else find it laughable that Softball is on ESPN1 & #WorldLax is on ESPN2? #TitleIXProblems.”
Then, after presumably taking some flak for that jab, @Warrior tweeted, “To clarify one of our tweets: There are 375 Women’s Lacrosse teams in the NCAA compared to 296 Men’s Teams. #Inequality #TitleIXProblems.”
The two tweets were subsequently deleted, but not before many people saw them, and were appalled.
— Lauren Smith (@LaurnSmith) July 11, 2014
Warrior’s insensitivity toward the longstanding plight of female athletes hardly went unnoticed. (Not to mention the apparent cluelessness, as the Sporting News pointed out, about the fact that there may be a gender disparity in college lacrosse scholarships, but there is an infinitely greater one in college football scholarships). Many found it especially galling in light of the widespread perception, fair or not, that lacrosse is a sport largely populated by the smug and out-of-touch.
.@Warrior Can’t for the life of me wrap my head around why so many people find lacrosse elitist.
— Allie Mac Kay (@alliemackay) July 11, 2014
This is not the first time that the company has run into controversy over its social media tactics. In 2012, Major League Lacrosse star Jovan Miller, among others, strongly objected to a Warrior advertising campaign that used the hastag #NinjaPlease, which alludes to a phrase involving a racial epithet. In a story on the matter by NBC Charlotte, Miller, who is African American, had this to say:
“Honestly, it was offensive. I didn’t feel like there was necessarily malice behind it, but I felt like they knew they could get away with it. Warrior is a company that prides itself on being ‘edgy’ but this is too far.”
Apparently, someone at Warrior got the message that it had once again gone too far. After deleting the controversial tweets Thursday, the company posted this one:
— Warrior (@Warrior) July 11, 2014
Oh, that’s clever! Because, you see, “Cross the Line” is the catchphrase for Warrior’s latest ad campaign.
One gets the feeling that this tweet, which sounds at least as arrogant as apologetic, won’t quite make up for the earlier pair.