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Whitlock: Samantha Ponder is more courageous than all the men at ESPN
Meg Oliphant / Contributor, Frederick M. Brown / Stringer, Icon Sportswire / Contributor | Getty Images

Whitlock: Samantha Ponder is more courageous than all the men at ESPN

A time comes when silence is betrayal. That time has come for us in relation to biological males competing in women’s sports. That time has come for us in relation to male athletes avoiding the topic of biological males competing in women’s sports.

I’m obviously stealing from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s anti-Vietnam War speech. It applies to transgenderism. It applies to America’s assault on common sense.

We live in a time in which the prevailing sentiment is that everything is for everybody. It’s not true. You can’t have it all. You shouldn’t desire to have it all. The mindset is testament to greed’s power to overtake a culture and man’s willingness to submit to cowardice in pursuit of financial gain.

On Saturday, USA Today published a column attacking ESPN broadcaster Samantha Ponder for a tweet that supported University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines.

Gaines has earned popularity speaking out against the trend of gender-dysphoric biological males competing in girls’ sports. She swam against William “Lia” Thomas in the NCAAs. Last week, via Twitter, Gaines shared a handful of messages she received from California parents and young girls upset that biological boys were competing against girls in the state’s high school track meet.

Ponder retweeted Gaines and added a comment:

“I barely said anything publicly about this issue and I’ve had so many people message me, stop me in the street to say thank you and tell me stories about girls who are afraid to speak up for fear of lost employment/being called hateful. It is not hateful to demand fairness in sports for girls.”

This tweet sparked a nasty rebuke from Nancy Armour, a USA Today columnist: “Don’t be fooled by the people who screech about ‘fairness’ to cloak their bigotry toward transgender girls and women, the transgender girls and women who have the audacity to want to play sports, in particular. This is, and always was, about hate, fear, and ignorance.”

According to Armour, Sam Ponder is a bigot now because she believes biological boys and girls should compete in separate sports. Armour berates Ponder for agreeing with a Megyn Kelly tweet that ridiculed a transgender “woman” going to see a gynecologist. Armour complained that Ponder’s likes are a “cesspool of transphobic tweets.”

In April, Ponder tweeted that she regrets not speaking out sooner in support of Riley Gaines.

Where are the men at ESPN and throughout the sports world speaking out in support of Samantha Ponder and Sage Steele, another ESPN employee who has been vocal on the trans sports issue?

Why are jocks, sports pundits, and men betraying Ponder, Steele, and Gaines?

If Mina Kimes gets a mean tweet about her lack of qualifications to be considered an “NFL insider,” the white and black knights of ESPN rush to Twitter to protect their Asian queen.

There’s no rush to publicly rally around Ponder or Steele because there’s no money or social media clout to be gained. You can’t elevate your Corporate Equity Index pointing out the absurdity of men competing against women.

Every male ex-jock at ESPN knows it’s unfair for biological boys to compete against girls. They’re experts on the topic. They know far more about competing in athletics than they do about law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and American history.

They can’t wait to hop on television to second-guess law enforcement. They can’t wait to offer bold opinions about subjects they know very little about.

But boys competing against girls?


It’s as fundamental a topic as there is in sports. It’s the equivalent of debating Jordan vs. LeBron or the NFL careers of Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick.

Why is ESPN avoiding the subject?

Because the executives running the network are petrified of the Alphabet Mafia and the on-air talent fear social media backlash. It’s collective cowardice.

Two women at ESPN – Ponder and Steele – have more courage than Mike Greenberg, Stephen A. Smith, Ryan Clark, Dan Orlovsky, Jalen Rose, Max Kellerman, and all the other men combined. It’s embarrassing.

This is what happens when everyone is chasing “the bag.” It empowers social media to eliminate common sense.

I have sympathy for men and women who believe they were born the wrong gender. But common sense makes it clear that not everything is for everybody. A boy who thinks he’s a girl doesn’t get to compete in girls’ sports. That’s life. No different from how I’ve long thought I would look great in size 32 skinny jeans. They’re not for me. They don’t fit.

The solution to dysphoria is not pandering to other people's delusion. It’s helping them come to grips with reality. And the reality is the silence of men on the issue of trans athletes speaks to our betrayal of women and God.

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