Sexual Harassment Is Something That’s Not Uncommon In Sports

By Gregory Moore
Updated: October 8, 2007

SAN ANTONIO — Last week a New York jury awarded Anucha Browne Sanders $11.6 million for being sexually harassed by New York Knicks’ general manager and head coach, Isiah Thomas, along with James Dolan; who fired her out of spite.

The case is monumental because for the first time in recent memory because it has been seen in the country’s consciousness that sexual harassment in the corporate world still exists. It is also very relevant because believe it or not, sexual harassment is very much alive and well in the sports world.

Whether you believe Ms. Brown Sanders’ accusations is going to be mute in this piece. There are hundreds of women like her who are trying to do a job in a “man’s” world and very few of them have the ability or willingness to take such claims public and face the scrutiny that they become succumbed to. Male chauvinism is very much alive and well in the sports field folks.

Many males do not believe that women can do the jobs of their male counterparts. Take for example the mere fact that it has been only recently that sports fans have accepted women being sideline reporters during broadcasts of their favorite games. Women like Pam Oliver, Suzy Kolber, Bonnie Bernstein, Lisa Salters and others like them are just not being “accepted” by the male constituency. There are hundreds of women who are in the decision-making areas in sports and many of them are behind the scenes.

Let’s forget about the vice presidents of sports franchises but let’s look at the possibility that there are several who are running departments at various networks, making the decisions on media buys at ad agencies, negotiating deals as agents, etc. Yet with all of their successes, many women are indeed subjected to the crass actions of their male counterparts and it is widely unreported.

That is why the verdict that Ms. Brown Sanders received from a Manhattan jury is so important in the sports world. For far too long, the sports industry has been oblivious to the fact that it is nothing more than a fairytale trying to survive in the real world.

The way issues like sexual harassment are handled is so outside the course of normal operations that it is indeed hard to fathom a woman getting the acknowledgement that she is very capable in handling the “boys” and their toys. But this paradigm is very much like that in the real world. Sexual harassment in the workplace is still very much a reality and it happens every day.

And so Ms. Brown Sanders was correct in her statement that she was doing it for every woman who desired to go to work in the corporate structure. Whether she actually gets $11.6 million is another question but at least she did do something that will now force the male dominated sports world reflect on and realize that the “good ole” way of doing things is very much passé and not in the best interest of our society.


As great as high school football is do you know what it lacks? A vertical passing game. Of the thousands of football programs in this country, there are very few programs that have a legitimate signal caller who can throw the football effectively and accurately. A guy like a Jimmy Clausen or Chris Sims at that rank are few and far between.

Instead, what we have are programs that feature a bruising running style in which the tailback is carrying the ball 30 times or more and getting over a 150 yards a game. While the power game is something that everyone likes to brag about, do you know what happens to that star running back? You get what happened to San Antonio Madison’s Devin Thomas.

Okay for the national folk you don’t know who this kid is yet but you will know him if he decides to commit to Arkansas on paper but for those of us down here in the Lone Star state, Thomas was San Antonio’s top rusher this season until that injury. The injury occured as a defender horse collared him to the ground. If you want to know, that tackle is illegal and the opposing team should have been penalized for that incident.

At the high school level, that tackle is almost career ending. What it shows is that the defender is a poor tackler who does not have closing speed to wrap up his opponent. Yet I’m not going to fault the kid who yanked Thomas down from the back.

I’m going to jump all over his head coach, Jim Streety, for leaving him in the game in the first place. That injury would have never happened if Streety didn’t get greedy and kept going to the trough time after time; especially after Thomas had scored his third touchdown.

That is argument folks. We have high school coaches who do not know how to coach and manage a football team that has a balanced attack. We have programs that do not believe in developing an offensive game plan that puts a balanced threat on the field.

In Texas, there are very few programs that even run spread offenses which is ironic considering the fact that so many kids clamor to become professional athletes and they end up going to big time programs. Yet the high schools are only doing what is in front of them. Many college programs do not have balanced attacks either.

In doing my research, I went to to see who was the top signal caller in the country. The top passer is a kid by the name of Terrelle Pryor, a 6-foot-6 senior from Jeanette High School in Jeanette, Pa.. Just to show how the recruiting class is for 2008, the first Texas high school player to be listed at the QB position is Houston’s Andrew Luck, a 6-foot-3 player committed to Stanford.

By the way, Thomas was listed on SuperPreps as the 52nd best running back in the 2008 recruiting class and there were more talented backs coming from the northern and eastern part of the Lone Star state than the south. As for the signal callers, they were more from Florida, California and the northern reaches of the country than in the Midwest or south central parts.

Which is why I have a hard time understanding why everyone wants to clamor how great Texas football is. For me, I’m a fan of an overall game. I like seeing a confident prep being able to sling the rock to a talented teammate on a seam or go route.

I like seeing an offense set up their passing game with a good running attack and seeing backs being able to do everything they need to do. If a running back can’t catch in the open field or block, to me he’s not a running back; he’s one dimensional as a player and is easy to bring down.

Which is why I think coaches like Streety need to develop systems that utilize all the talents of the game. Seeing box scores in which one tailback is rushing for 200 plus yards on thirty carries or more doesn’t impress me in the least; nor does seeing a program contstantly rely on that back for points.

Seeing Thomas’ injury just reminds me of why I got out of volunteer coaching. When I was knee deep in it, the coaching staff I was on believed in passing the ball. We believed in a 55/45 offense because we knew that the run was paramount to our success however the passing game was crucial to putting points up on the board. We taught the quarterbacks the drills necessary to develop strong arms and keen senses for being able to get the ball to the right guys at the right time.

We developed running backs that could not only bruise you between the tackles but also beat you out in the open when they caught a ball. We believed in coaching football the way it could be played without getting players hurt and still being a threat.

High school football programs, for the most part, are not like what I just described. Unless you are from a program like Elder High School in Cincinnati or any school where the head coach believes in passing the ball, you will continue to see head coaches go to their big horses over and over again.

That’s the wrong way to coach a bunch of talented kids in my book and somebody at the high school level needs to be a maverick and say, “I’m going to have a program that develops the WHOLE player; not just the power side of the game”. If not, we are going to see more Devin Thomas’ get hurt in a fashion that could almost end a career before it truly even begins.