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Great Moments in lazy sexism

Jan 4, 2012, 4:33 PM EDT

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Stan McNeal of The Sporting News wrote today about the Astros’ two front office hires.  The first one was Sig Mejdal, the Director of Decision Sciences I mentioned this morning.

The other: Stephanie Wilka, the team’s new coordinator of amateur scouting.  But get how he describes Wilka in his article:

Wilka, a former cheerleader at Harvard, has worked in community relations with the Dodgers and Red Sox. She earned a law degree from Pepperdine and passed the California bar exam last July, according to the Astros’ release.

Harvard educated lawyer with major market MLB experience who is going to be in charge of fixing what may be the Astros’ biggest problem and she gets described as “a former cheerleader?”  Really?  Wow, that’s special.

Look, I don’t have a hair-trigger with this sort of thing. And I doubt McNeal is pushing some agenda here. Maybe he is just lazily repeating something he Googled about her or maybe it was in the Astros’ press release.  But the fact that McNeal described the Mejdal hiring in rather mocking terms suggests to me that he was looking to mock the Wilka hiring somehow too and settled on this cheerleader comment. Whatever his intention, he comes off as sexist.

Unless of course McNeal typically researches the undergraduate extracurricular activities of male front office hires and throws them out there too. But I just sort of doubt he does.

  1. bearsstillsuck - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    Technically cheer leading is a sport, so it’d be the same as saying she played softball in college. I think it’s a stretch calling that sexist.

    • amaninwhite - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:54 PM

      I can see your point in calling it a stretch to label it as sexism, though had the article led off with “…a former softball player at Harvard…”, it could still be seen as mocking her intellectual capabilities, i.e. the dumb jock.

      • kopy - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:59 PM

        It basically just seems like a way of saying she’s a Harvard graduate but adding in the fact that she played a sport there – which is slightly relevant to her position as an amateur (sport) scout. It does make me wonder what her Bachelor’s degree is in, since it’s either irrelevant to this job, bad journalism for not mentioning it, or she dropped out.

      • woodenulykteneau - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:13 PM

        For the record, Harvard does not give out athletic scholarships.

      • bozosforall - Jan 4, 2012 at 7:57 PM

        George W. Bush was the (head) cheerleader at Andover, so your “mocking her intellectual capabilities” remark is way off base………………..

        On second thought…nevermind. Ha ha

    • nategearhart - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      It can depend, considering what most people think of when they think “cheerleaders”. In the context of this particular article, I think the writer was definitely trying to be demeaning.

      • paperlions - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:10 PM

        A large majority would view any reference to being a cheerleader as demeaning….especially as the first descriptor for such an intellectually accomplished individual.

      • baseballisboring - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:39 PM

        Exactly. It should’ve just read “Wilka, a sexy chick who can also think…” I mean, hmm. It’s sort of intended to influence your thoughts about the person, and the stereotypes about cheerleaders are not that they all go to Harvard.

      • baseballisboring - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:43 PM

        It seems as though the writer thought it was *important* to include the cheerleader bit for some reason, even though it wasn’t material to anything he was saying. Kind of like when you hear somebody say “So I was walking down the street the other day and this big black guy walks up to me…”, or something along those lines. The fact that he’s black doesn’t really matter does it? There’s some type of thought or feeling you’re trying to emphasize by pointing that out, probably without realizing it…I dunno.

    • 78mu - Jan 4, 2012 at 8:33 PM

      The schools would love for cheerleading to be a sport since they would be considered athletes for Title IX purposes.

  2. b7p19 - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    “Great Moments in lazy sexism”

    Are there any other kinds of moments in sexism?

    • El Bravo - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:54 PM

      I put a lot of effort into my sexist remarks, thank you very much.

      • b7p19 - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:57 PM

        I stand corrected. One could very possibly work extra hard to produce sexist remarks.

      • El Bravo - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:03 PM

        I’ve climbed mountains, swam through white-water rapids, ran across miles of desert, trudged through swamps and walked through fire just to slap a girl on the butt for no reason other than to be an asshole.

  3. 18thstreet - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    I was no fan of his, but President Bush was a former cheerleader at Yale. Somehow, his biographies never started out that way.

    • natstowngreg - Jan 4, 2012 at 6:53 PM

      No, but a few started out with his brief and unsuccessful baseball career at Yale. In part, to suggest he is, at heart, a dumb jock. In part, to suggest his envy of his father’s accomplishments (including captaining the Yale baseball team).

      Recently, I read an article on Rick Perry that led with his having been a cheerleader at Texas A&M. The context was pretty clear — that he’s dumb, and being a cheerleader was the highlight of his academic career. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was another politician who got the “he was a cheerleader in college” treatment.

      Sorta appropors, I have a niece who was a cheerleader at West Point (before graduating, then doing 2 tours in Iraq). They have male cheerleaders at West Point as well.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 4, 2012 at 7:07 PM

        Normal pejoratives just don’t carry as much weight when applied to cadets.

      • 18thstreet - Jan 4, 2012 at 7:28 PM

        Rick Perry did a nice job filling out stereotypes on his own.

      • adenzeno - Jan 5, 2012 at 6:54 AM

        As a Native Texan, I apologize for your having to watch Perry…

  4. cur68 - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    As an undergrad I once agreed to be a team mascot. I got to wear a gryphon costume in 30 degree C weather. It had cold packs in it, one of which was velcro’d inside the beak. When I looked up to see a fly over by the Snowbird Jets, the ice pack slid out and hit me between the eyes. Boy. That hurt. All of my friends still remember my brief career as “Gryff”, not least because the other team’s mascot, a bulldog, attacked me and tore a hole in my costume’s left leg and ripped off my tail. I’m given to understand that Gryff’s tail remains as a trophy. So yeah, one’s undergraduate career in “cheering” can remain relevant to one’s lot in life. A pox on all bulldogs.

    • b7p19 - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      What in the sam hell is a Gryphon? And what does 30 degrees C mean in real temperature? Otherwise thats a pretty good, somewhat relevant, story.

      • cur68 - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:55 PM

        86 F. Hot enough to boil your balls if you’re in a faux-fur blue gryphon suit.

        This is a gryphon:

        http://clay2015.edublogs.org/

      • El Bravo - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:58 PM

        Same as a griffin right? Just spelled all Canadiany?

      • b7p19 - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:59 PM

        Ooooohhh, a dragon! Wouldn’t the ice pack limit your fire breathing potential? That could have led to the ass whoopin you got from the bulldog, i’m thinkin.

    • protius - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:00 PM

      You were a cheer leader? I should have seen that one coming a mile away.

      • cur68 - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:12 PM

        Yep. For about 4 hours. Pretty proud of it, too. As is Ms. Wilka, I imagine. Oh and try stealth condoms: you won’t see anything coming then.

      • El Bravo - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:15 PM

        That stealth condoms comment wins the internet today and maybe all week. Thanks, cur.

      • cur68 - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:26 PM

        No worries, Bravo. FTR, Ms. Wilka does indeed appear to be hot. Smart & good lookin’: is there no better combination in a woman?

      • protius - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:31 PM

        I can picture you now: two tone pleated skirt, varsity sweater, bobby socks and saddle shoes. Lol, you and Bravo make a cute couple.

        Oh, by the way, a stealth condom wouldn’t have made it any easier to see it coming; your mouth was closed.

      • cur68 - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:45 AM

        Uh huh. I have no doubt you see men in drag everywhere you look. Mirrors, holding your hand, when you dream etc.

        Still having trouble with the punctuation, eh genius? FYI, when you use a colon you have to have an independent clause ahead of it: like this. For a guy who goes around correcting others you sure suck at it.

      • protius - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:32 PM

        When you confessed to being a cheer leader, it all began to make sense to me.

        Your over sensitivity to criticism about your misuse of punctuation (And now you’re accusing me of the same thing, how sad). Your tendency to go overboard replying to a good natured tease, e.g., your stealth condom remark. Your willingness to throw a hissy fit at the slightest provocation. Now can you blame me if I get the impression that your behavior is a bit effeminate?

        Like I said, when you confessed to being a cheer leader, I got this mental image of a big Canadian lumberjack with three days growth on his face, dressed up in traditional cheer leader garb, and it was you. I got a good laugh out of it, and moved on. I think if everyone here was honest with you, they’d say pretty much the same thing because it’s funny. Have you ever heard of Monty Python?

        BTW, I don’t think you’d recognize an independent clause if it came up to you and bit you on the ass. An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence. An independent clause uses a semi colon, NOT A COLON. This is a semi colon ; Here’s an example of how to use a semi colon: “Oh, by the way, a stealth condom wouldn’t have made it any easier to see it coming; your mouth was closed.” The independent clause: a stealth condom wouldn’t have made it any easier to see it coming is, in and of itself, a complete thought, i.e., it can stand alone.

        Furthermore, you don’t know a colon from your rectum. “A colon is used to mark a major division in a sentence, to indicate that what follows is an elaboration, summation, implication, etc, of what precedes.” (Dictionary.com) This is a colon :

        Apparently, you suck at a lot of things: you don’t have a sense of humor, you don’t know how to punctuate, you’re Canadian, and you don’t have a colon.

        You don’t have to thank me for the grammar lesson. I don’t mind helping losers like you improve your writing skills.

        FYI, the best thing to come out of Canada was Preston Scout House.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:37 PM

      Hahaha! Outstanding Cur. A Fire Breathing Dragon who got his ass handed to him by a bulldog.
      Phuqing hilarious.

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Is she hot?

    • ricofoy - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:52 PM

      That’s a sexist comment. ;)

    • El Bravo - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      Seriously, I read that as implying she’s hot…which, yes, is still sexist. So is she hot or what?

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Of course, a google images search of her name produces, as the first result, a photo of her cheer leading from a Harvard publication. (second picture down: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/2004/10.14/14-football.html)

    • El Bravo - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:00 PM

      Can’t really tell, so I’ll just assume she’s a perfect 10, like I do every weekend at the bars when drunk…

  7. sportsdrenched.com - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    I checked some of the other press releases about this, and this is the only one that mentions Wilka’s extra curricular activities in college. Might be something to that. Are you going to demand a public apology from the writer?

    What I found more interesting is this write up on Mejdal:

    Mejdal earned two engineering degrees at the University of California at Davis and later completed advanced degrees in operations research and cognitive psychology/human factors. He has also worked at Lockheed Martin in California and for NASA.

    Mejdal has been active in baseball statistics and analytics since earning his membership in The Society for Baseball Research (SABR) while in grade school.

    In other words: He’s a rocket scientist whose life long love of baseball and stats landed him a front office job with a Major League Team. How awesome is that? It’ll be interesting to see how his new career progresses.

    • Robert H. - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:03 PM

      But is he hot?

    • b7p19 - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      Wow, I want that man’s life….only without all the hard work he put into it.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:39 PM

        Yep…what b7919 says. Btw…I hate typing your handle “B7p19.”

    • natstowngreg - Jan 5, 2012 at 9:15 AM

      Not an actual rocket scientist but impressive nonetheless. Being in SABR in grade school may be the most impressive and most disturbing thing about his resume.

  8. fearlessleader - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Great Moments in Why I Love HBT.

    Thanks yet again, Craig, for your continued refusal to treat women/gays/minorities/etc. as interlopers or afterthoughts.

    • El Bravo - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:05 PM

      Move along, interloper…I keeeeed!

  9. hushbrother - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Now why is it sexist to mention that she was a cheerleader? Is that something she should be ashamed of? It’s not like she’s a former stripper. It’s just an interesting piece of her background. Like mentioning that Mark Cuban is a former dance instructor.

    • nategearhart - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      It’s all about the context. The writer is not being very positive in it.

    • b7p19 - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:09 PM

      How funny would it have been if it would have started off “Wilka, a former stripper from Harvard…”

      Of course she shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Just like she shouldn’t have been ashamed of being a stripper if that was the case.

      • El Bravo - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:17 PM

        Strippers and boobs. My favorite retail establishment.

  10. kfiz14 - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Boobs?

    • El Bravo - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:05 PM

      Confirmed.

    • cur68 - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      *golf clap*

      • stlouis1baseball - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:47 PM

        Cur: Smart and good looking are a good combination? Smart? Really?
        So she can call your ass out on a regular basis for being an imbecile? Hahaha!
        Since we are on the topic of sexist remarks…
        My Father always said his ideal women was blind, deaf, mute and her Father owned a Bar.
        Just for the record…he and my Mother have been married 47 years.
        Before anyone comments…
        My Mother isn’t blind, deaf or mute…and her Father was a Farmer.

      • cur68 - Jan 4, 2012 at 6:03 PM

        Most people have preferences in their mate of choice. Some people like blondes. Some brunettes. Some don’t care so long as she’s holding beer. Mine’s brains. I’m not going to say it makes for an easy life, but it’s damn interesting.

  11. butchhuskey - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Craig, I can see how you might believe thus to be sexist, but I honestly don’t think that was the intent. I think they were just trying to give some background info. so people can have a better idea of who this woman is. It’s like if Paul Depodesta is described as a former baseball player at Harvard or something

    • fearlessleader - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:27 PM

      The writer’s intent is irrelevant to whether it’s sexist.

      • paperlions - Jan 4, 2012 at 6:04 PM

        Indeed, it may be worse when a person is sexist/racist but doesn’t even realize it; thereby, obviating the need for intent. There are cultures (some of them in the US) in which sexism/racism is so ingrained that people don’t even recognize it within themselves because “that is how everyone they know thinks” or “because they aren’t any more sexists/racist than anyone else they know, so they aren’t sexist/racist”.

  12. kingjoe1 - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    So if a dude’s only exposure to sports is bandmember at Harvard, what would that be? Maybe the sexism is on your part in that the sheer mention of a legitmate college level activity such as cheerleading gets you thinking of sex. Your mindset is so prejudiced towards cheerleaders that you fail to see the honor in being one.

  13. stex52 - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    I will take the high road on this and say the Astros are going to some less conventional directions to bring in new and fresh thinking. It certainly is needed. And if she happens to be great looking, no problem for me.

    BTW, is anyone else familiar with Alyson Footer – Public Relations and Media for the Astros? Her nickname on the site was “the Red Goddess”.

    Now I will go wash my mouth out with soap.

  14. Tim's Neighbor - Jan 4, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    I don’t believe that the NCAA considers cheerleading a sport. So she wasn’t a student athlete. She was in a club.

  15. Tick - Jan 4, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    That’s lazy, all right. He doesn’t even mention if the dumb broad is hot or not.

    • El Bravo - Jan 5, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      This comment was so funny when I read on my phone last night, I’ve come back to this post to say as much. If you can’t get this humor, you are a dumb dude/broad.

  16. tuftsb - Jan 4, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    The way McNeal chose to describe Wilka will only make it more difficult for other women to try to work in player personnel. The area is currently a frat house and the last bastion of all male activity in baseball.

    • genericcommenter - Jan 4, 2012 at 7:01 PM

      Oh, C’mon. It said she was a cheerleader at HARVARD, and went to Law School, and passed the bar. It didn’t say she was a Division III football cheerleader for the local teacher’s college who took 6 years to graduate and now teaches Home Ec at the local junior high.

  17. tuftsb - Jan 4, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    I spent 5 minutes on line and found out more about her background – too bad reporters cannot bother to do so.

    Stephanie Wilka – Community & Tenant Relations – Marketing & Leasing

    Stephanie’s background is in working in major league baseball, including the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, which fostered her interest in real estate development and investment.

    She assists TKH with legal and project coordination, as well as interacting with tenants in structuring their site selection objectives. She has also been involved in new project underwriting, municipality research and interface, as well as tenant leases, purchase & sale agreements and new ventures.

    Stephanie also contributes research and support to special projects for Tallen & Keshen Holdings and its assets, focusing on the combined legal and business issues.

    After completing her undergraduate work, she worked with the Boston Red Sox in their Public Affairs department and then relocated to spearhead the growth of the club’s outreach in the Dominican Republic. Stephanie oversaw the construction of two baseball fields, the operation of an early education facility, and the donation and delivery of an ambulance.

    Stephanie also served as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Dodgers Dream Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Dodgers organization.

    Stephanie has a Juris Doctorate degree. She has her undergraduate degree from Harvard University where she concentrated in Psychology and Spanish language. She is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

  18. aaronmoreno - Jan 4, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    Man, I was two years ahead of her at Pepperdine Law, and she’s helping run the farm in Houston?!?!?

    *kicks self*

    • tuftsb - Jan 4, 2012 at 7:59 PM

      How do you concentrate on classes when you have that gorgeous view at Pepperdine?

      • aaronmoreno - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:10 PM

        I don’t know, you should probably ask someone who did well there.

        See how easy it is to not make a sexist comment?

  19. tn16 - Jan 4, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    It makes her more interesting

  20. badmamainphilliesjamas - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Maybe it’s a sign of progress that a group of (mostly) guys is even discussing whether the article is sexist. Funny, because it didn’t really bother me–I was too busy thinking that was a career path I wish I’d taken.

    I’ve spent most of my working life in male-dominated industries, and never mind being underestimated. My guess is that anyone who looks at Wilka as “just a cheerleader” does so at his peril.

  21. stercuilus65 - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    The writer and anybody attacking this as “sexist” are jokes and stereotypes of the left wingers who find offense in anything.
    Go cry somewhere else.

    • badmamainphilliesjamas - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:53 PM

      Now THAT was offensive.
      xo,
      An unapologetic left winger

  22. cosanostra71 - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    who cares?

    • El Bravo - Jan 5, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      you do or else you wouldn’t make this comment, thus proving you read the post and therefore showing some level of interest.

      • cosanostra71 - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:38 PM

        I read it expecting some actual sexism.

  23. K. Harker - Jan 5, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Don’t see much commentary about this kind of thing on sports sites. I appreciate it.

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