Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The case of Simon Borg v Women

I've never seen Simon Borg as an unnecessary drink stirrer. He typically gets his point in, gets in a strange comment and produces a few guffaws in the process. He's never been a Skip Bayless protege, but rather he's erred on the goofy side of argumentative. He's carved out a role at MLS and plays it well. Case in point is his MLS picks persona and the not-top-goals segment. Borg can produce eye rolls and even the occasional "What?" But controversial he is not.

Which is why his comment on the April 30th edition of his MLS podcast surprised me. This got a little touchy, which is usually fodder for someone else.

Anyway, here's the quote. You be the judge.

It's fine if you're a female and you want to be a super-fan. Clearly go for it, that's your choice. But there is something to be said for how appealing that might be to the other sex. Having a woman that's such a fan, like painting your face, tuning in to every podcast. I don't know how many males would be into that.
It's great that in Kansas City there are a lot of women in the stands, it's great, but for the guy who wants maybe a serious relationship... If you are following just casually, but if you're such a die-hard, I don't know, it comes a point that it is a bit of a turn-off.

For the record, I don't think he's on the mark here. I'd be all over it. But whatever.

UPDATE: Jezebel has gotten hold of the story. Cue the misogynistic outrage!

- Will Parchman

17 comments:

Greg Seltzer said...

Yeah, I'd find it kinda sexy and just one more fun thing to share.

Unless she was an F-word fan, of course. Gack.

jon said...

Yeah, everybody is all over this now, and while I've yet to hear anyone that agrees with him, the discourse seems to center on how the MLS digital or editorial team fits in with the league -- whether Simon "speaks for the league" as so many want to say. Greg presumably has a better handle on this than us lay folk, but I (maybe naively?) always considered them a separate entity that happened to have a direct line to MLS HQ. I mean, I know MLSSoccer.com is run by MLS proper, but I figure they do what they want.

Greg Seltzer said...

MLSS is owned by the league, but it's like a separate division. I'd not go so far as to call it completely autonomous, but certainly far more than some fans may assume.

I was even allowed to criticize the league in a column about Landon Donovan moving abroad (always a touchy subject in the States), so... yeah, it's pretty well separated.

Thus, Simon Borg speaks for Simon Borg, not MLS. And I suspect most male MLS fans would enjoy having a girlfriend or wife that shares that passion.

Jacob Klinger said...

Yeah, it's basically a prerequisite for me.

Jay Eychaner said...

Borg's niche is the foot he has lodged in his mouth. This is not surprising behavior from him.

Phil McCracken said...

Agreed, Borg strikes me as a sports radio type of performer who likes to take the contrarian side of a topic just to spice things up. This, of course, makes him sound like an absolute moron many times and I chalk it up to that.

Many days, I wish we could go back to a time before the internet and the 24 hour news cycle. Things were so much easier then and we didn't have to be subjected to "controversies" such as these.

Greg Seltzer said...

Okay, but....

1 - I remember a time not so long ago when the average American fan (myself included) spent 2.4 hours per day wishing there was more American soccer media activity.

&

2 - Isn't our culture always looking for the next "controversy"?

Frankly, I don't find that sharing what your type happens to not be constitutes a sexist remark simply because it's a negative commentary about the opposite gender. I think the place it sounded bad was the language where he sorta presumed most guys think the same way. It would have been best had he used "I" language for the sentiment... but nobody will even remember this in two days.

Phil McCracken said...

Very true, Greg. I'm just a tired and cranky old man right now.

Greg Seltzer said...

Ha! Well within your rights, sir.

Poets said...

Looks like you will be going through sensitivity training...

Mr. Borg will be suspended from his position at MLSsoccer.com for seven days, effective immediately. All MLS employees undergo diversity and sensitivity training on an annual basis, and Mr. Borg and the entire MLS Digital group will receive additional sensitivity training promptly.

Greg Seltzer said...

No, actually, I'm the course instructor.

megs said...

I think what I find unsettling about the comment (not having read any of the other reactions about it) is the implication that I, as a female super-fan, ought to be considering how guys will react to my fandom as a factor in my decision to be more than just a casual fan. For me, I don't think I would have found it much different if he had used "I" language; I don't assume he's speaking for all fans or all male fans. I just take offense at the implication that I ought to be careful of revealing my fandom because it might be a turn-off to a potential significant other, and I think I'd find it just as disturbing if he were saying the same thing about guys with regards to attracting girls.

Greg Seltzer said...

I can see that, but it's honestly not what came to mind until I saw that this became a subject for discussion. Being that I am over here and I tend not to read the American soccer work of others, I often don't realize right away that something has flared up in this manner.

To me, it just sounded like a silly opinion from an already married guy that gave both women and men a prime opportunity to go "Shut up, Simon!" and wave him off. It just seemed like a comedy bit, as who would actually use that as a factor in romance?

Of course, I'm also not a female MLS diehard, so what do I know?

megs said...

I will fully admit that it's all out of context for me - I don't usually listen to the MLS podcast, and I haven't listened to this episode, so I'm just commenting on the quote as printed here, and I'm not incensed about it in my regular life or anything. I do think that there's probably a bit of a spark-in-a-dry-forest thing, though, simply in this way:

It's easy, as a female soccer fan, and indeed, as a female sports fan, to feel marginalized. A lot of coverage and discussion is aimed at a male audience and comes from males, and it's not unusual to encounter a pretty dismissive attitude towards female fans, whether it's that we don't really care that much, don't know the rules of the game, or are only in it for the hot guys. I get that most of the audience is male, and I understand that that's the demographic, but there are people who make comments like what Borg said and worse without joking at all, so when a comment like that shows up, even in a joking way, it's still evocative of an attitude that's actually out there. I'm not saying that I think Borg meant to recall that attitude, or that I think he needs to be censoring himself, or even that I think the people who are up in arms are necessarily right. Just trying to explain where they might be coming from, as someone who's felt it before.

Matt said...

The other sort of funny angle to all of this, is that during this SAME podcast Simon mentioned that his wife "works in soccer".

I think the comment, with even a little bit of context from the rest of the podcast, is pretty harmless. And nothing about it seemed sexist, to me at least.

And to Phil's point, I agree about the 24 hour cycle getting overwhelming -- but I actually think the MLS podcast is (along with the Guardian's) some of the best weekly soccer reporting to be heard.

Will Parchman said...

And NSC of course.

Jay Eychaner said...

Megs got it. That's the issue here: perpetuating the notion that women should be doing things in the context of "getting a man" rather than "because they like it."

Why isn't Borg's suggestion that men should be more than just casual fans if they want to attract a woman? Oh, right, because that's ALSO a completely ridiculous notion.