OPINION: Out-of-bounds comments rob focus of NFL sexism

October 12-Football and politics are clashing sports that share something. Each has more than its share of sex and hypocrisy.

Consider the struggles of veteran Cowboy Troy Aikman. He’s under fire for comments he made while broadcasting Monday night’s ESPN game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Las Vegas Raiders. Aikman’s inspiration was a bad call. Game officials penalized the Chiefs pass rusher for a foul on the Las Vegas quarterback.

“My hope is that the competition committee will look at this in the next set of meetings and, you know, we’ll get rid of the dresses,” Aikman said during the broadcast.

Countless viewers tore into Aikman. They called him a misogynist and a tone-deaf advertiser of 2022 spewing sexism like it’s 1974.

But as far as I can tell, none of Aikman’s critics on Twitter have said a word about the NFL’s 50-year tradition of focusing on young women without clothes.

32 NFL teams still feature cheerleaders, a euphemism for scantily clad women carrying pompoms.

Those who receive appointments to these so-called cheer squads share one characteristic: They are perfect enough to be magazine centerfolds or actors on knockoffs of Baywatch.

NFL cheerleaders walk around full stadiums and are often seen for a few moments on television, although they offer nothing for the viewer to understand the game. Their only purpose is to provide sex appeal as a marketing tool for gangs. That in itself could be considered as bad as anything Aikman said.

I have to say that NFL teams have shown that they can grow in their exposure of young players who join them. For example, concerned leaders have abandoned sexualized nicknames for cheerleading teams.

Gone are the Seattle Sea Gals, the Buffalo Jills and the Chicago Honey Bears. NFL teams in Chicago and Buffalo have eliminated their cheerleading squads altogether. Seattle’s women’s show team is now called the Seahawks Dancers, a more politically correct name than its ribald predecessor.

Even the team that Aikman looked after came, at least. The Dallas Cowgirls were named the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Their clothes remain simple, and their contributions to the game remain non-existent.

However, every network that covers NFL games pays tribute to cheerleaders in outrageous outfits. The only exception to the cheesecake coverage occurs when the television crew is in the home stadium of one of the seven teams without cheerleaders.

My friends and enemies are having a good time telling me that Pittsburgh doesn’t have a professional football team this season. The Steelers also never featured cheerleaders in hot pants and halter tops. The Rooney family, who have owned the Steelers since the team’s founding in 1933, saw no point in putting swimsuits on the field.

Also without cheerleaders are the aforementioned Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears, along with the Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers.

In a league that should be struggling with better treatment of players with disabilities, some 25 teams will find time to remain in the farming business. Their carefully staged sideshows featuring young women are rarely questioned or criticized.

Aikman during the hour received more heat than all the owners of the team combined. His comments about putting quarterbacks in suits came out of a few seconds of emotion. A famous player changed the media, he was angry because the wrong direction could change the outcome of the game.

If sexism is the issue, Aikman is small potatoes in the biggest football game of all. He repeated a phrase I often hear high school coaches use when they want to disrespect a player.

Most NFL team owners rarely speak on hot microphones, reducing the chance of them saying something stupid in public. But when most of them put their product on the field, part of it seems to have come from Hugh Hefner’s empire.

The owners call it pageantry. If those who say Aikman was out of bounds look closely, they may interpret the show differently.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at msimonich@sfnewmexican.com or 505-986-3080.

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