As a gift to OutKick’s loyal readers, we are proud to present some of Jason Whitlock’s best columns from 2020. Happy New Year. Enjoy!
The people who hate football and the people who spent the whole summer trying to cancel college football over COVID concerns came together to celebrate the game Saturday.
Sarah Fuller briefly made football socially acceptable for America’s most ardent virtue-signalers. That was her primary accomplishment, pleasing Make A Wish America.
At the beginning of the second half of Vanderbilt’s SEC football game against Missouri, Fuller trotted onto the field for the opening kickoff. She knocked the ball to the Missouri 37-yard line and immediately jogged to the sideline out of harm’s way.
The moment was hailed as history. ESPN’s SportsCenter Twitter account claimed Fuller’s kick changed the game. Others said she made history. She’s the first woman to play in a Power 5 football game.
I don’t believe she played football. She scored a point in the culture war. The people who believe the only difference between men and women is in how they choose to identify consider Fuller a poor woman’s Jackie Robinson.
She broke big time football’s gender barrier.
But did she?
Jackie Robinson was Major League Baseball’s rookie of the year in 1947. He finished fifth in MVP voting. In order to break the color barrier, Robinson had to play at a Hall of Fame level on Day 1. And he had to do it while facing a grotesque level of harassment.
Sarah Fuller received a standing ovation for kicking the ball 30 yards or so and high-tailing it to the sidelines to be greeted by the winless head coach using her to save his job.
This wasn’t Jackie Robinson 2.0. It was Make A Wish.
I don’t blame Sarah Fuller. She’s an accomplished, high-level Division 1 athlete. She’s a soccer goalie for the Vanderbilt women’s soccer team. She’s been baited into believing competing against men is her North star. Maybe it is. It shouldn’t be.
Vanderbilt doesn’t have a men’s soccer team. Positive COVID tests created the need for Vanderbilt to find a kicker this week.
Credit coach Derek Mason for dampening a finger and recognizing the biggest wish among football haters is that women play with and coach men. In the NFL, Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians felt the same wind blowing and is one of the league’s most popular coaches because he’s named a couple of women to his staff.
Two years ago, Toyota paid broadcaster Jim Nantz to voice a commercial that created the legend that a young girl, Toni Harris, earned a football scholarship. Harris was on a high school team in Detroit, but only took the field a couple of times during her “career.” She didn’t earn a football scholarship.
The culture warriors gave Harris one as a part of their Make A Wish program. They put her in a national TV commercial, too. There’s a lot of money being spent to create the illusion that women can and should be playing football against men.
The people spending the money hate football. It epitomizes “toxic masculinity”… except when women are on the field. Football should also be shuttered because of the head trauma dangers… unless women are playing. Oh, and during this COVID pandemic, it’s irresponsible for these Power 5 schools to exploit these college athletes… unless there’s a woman playing.
My critics will argue I’m threatened by women playing football. No. Not at all. If they’re good enough, who cares?
My gripe is that it diminishes these female athletes. Sarah Fuller is an elite soccer player. She’s a terrible football player, arguably the worst to ever take the field in the SEC. The announcers during the game said Mason wasn’t comfortable using her kick field goals unless they were inside the 15-yard line. There were pictures of her warming up in pregame kicking 14-yard field goals.
Her athleticism does not need to be validated by competing against men in any capacity, let alone in a sport that is not her specialty. Treating Sarah Fuller like she’s a special-needs kid does not uplift the cause of equality.
The overwhelming majority of people know this. The American media has been hijacked by activists and social media apps designed to amplify the voices of the illogical.
Saturday morning via Twitter I asked a couple of harmless questions: 1) Does Vanderbilt have a men’s soccer team? 2) Did Vanderbilt choose the best candidate or the most publicity?
My mentions were overrun with negativity. You would have thought I’d spoken poorly of a religious figure. You would’ve thought most of America disagreed with my skepticism.
When I published a poll asking what was the driving force powering Vanderbilt’s decision to use Fuller as a kicker, 15,000 people responded within an hour. Forty-two percent of the respondents said Vanderbilt was virtue signaling. Another 39 percent said it was a publicity stunt.
Most people agreed with me.
The purpose of Twitter is to program the mainstream media into promoting lunacy. Mission accomplished. Sarah Fuller is Jackie Robinson.