Charlotte writer had local connection

Sorry, but this week’s daylong-plus drama about Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton dismissively answering a question from a female reporter about wide receivers running routes was much ado about nothing.

Yes, Newton was a jerk, and what he said was disrespectful to the female reporter — in this case Jourdan Rodrigue, who covered Penn State football for the Centre Daily Times before taking a job with the Charlotte Observer last year.

Still, Newton actually provided a fairly cogent and complete answer after laughing and noting it was funny that a woman would ask about receivers’ routes.

Had it been a male reporter he dismissed for his perceived lack of knowledge about a topic, though, it would’ve generated no response. It would’ve been jock-on-geek crime, at best.

Additionally, the incident gave a potentially accurate glimpse at Newton’s personality — and he started paying for his dismissive approach pretty quickly when Dannon Yogurt announced it was cutting ties with him.

He had been a prominent face of the Oikos brand, but lots of women buy yogurt and the internet and social media certainly fired a fast, hot flame around this matter.

By the time you read this, Newton’s personal brand managers and sponsors such as Gatorade, Microsoft and Under Armour might’ve take some additional action. Maybe they’re hoping a by-the-numbers apology makes this nothing more than a blip in a long season — we’ll see if that ends up being the case.

To be clear, Newton was wrong. But, to be clear, it’s the kind of thing that happens all the time and that can go unnoticed if a camera is not around. A curt or snide answer is, unfortunately, part of the job for reporters, male or female, covering sports or any subject.

Sources get dismissive or mean. Those actions paint a better picture of those people for media members. It’s not fun when it happens, but it happens.

Should we expect more of the people answering question? Yes. Should we pillory the person at fault when it happens? No.

After all, if sources carefully craft all their answers and behaviours, never make a mistake a show some emotions or feeling, we’ll blame them for being controlled and robotic. Nobody wants that, either.

Finally, if this is the most dismissive or sexist an athlete or coach gets with the talented Rodrigue during her career, that’s a major victory.

And a cynical part of me thinks that a little controversy like this, especially as she gets praised for having the backbone to complain, probably will not hurt her career.

Tuner tidbits

n ESPN officials are happy with the addition of former NBA standout Paul Pierce as an on-air personality because of his personality and work ethic.

n Longtime baseball writer and former ESPN and MLB Network contributor Peter Gammons has joined The Athletic — the online, subscription sports site that has become a home for many talented sports journalists moving from traditional outlets.

n ESPN this week announced it had reached an agreement to carry Formula 1 races beginning next season. Races will air on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, which first carried F1 races in the United States in 1962. It’s a good move, and most races will appear Sunday mornings on ESPN2.

n ESPN also added Katie Nolan, an Emmy Award winner who had formerly worked for Fox Sports. She’s set to appear on a variety of TV shows and online venues beginning Oct. 16. It will be if interesting to see if ESPN can find a way to monetize the popularity she has gained among a small, influential group of media critics. There’s no doubt she has talent, but finding a place for her to function best might take a little time.

n Penn State’s women’s soccer match at Rutgers will air at 7 p.m. Thursday on BTN.

n The Penn State men’s hockey team’s game at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 vs. American International will be televised by BTN.

Sampsell can be reached at stevesampsell@gmail.com.

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