Everyone knows the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, right?
Guy gets tricked into wearing nothing because he’s told the clothing is so remarkable it can only be seen by those who are not fools or incompetent, and everyone goes along pretending they can see the outfit until a child points out the emperor is nude.
Nowadays, the crowd would turn on the child. Respect the emperor’s right to identify as being clothed! How dare you call out the rest of us for supporting the emperor in his delusion ... errrr.... belief!
Anyway, I kinda felt like that child over the last week observing what was happening with the Vanderbilt football team and its kicker.
First of all, I have no problem with women playing college football, at any position. This woman, Sarah Fuller, was asked by the football coach to be the team’s kicker. Why wouldn’t she agree? It’s a challenge. A chance to do something different. A moment for her to remember.
Where I became the little kid watching the emperor’s procession is when ESPN and other media started calling it an “historic moment.” A “game-changing” event.
And after Fuller ran onto the field, kicked the ball about 30 yards, and ran off the field, she was named the Southeast Conference Co-Special Teams Player of the Week.
What am I not seeing here?
A historic game-changing event? I think we toss around “historic” a bit too freely these days.
Liz Heaston kicking two extra points for NAIA college Williamette in 1997 was historic. Tonya Butler kicking a field goal for West Alabama in 2003 was historic.
Someone becoming the first women to execute a squib kickoff in a Power 5 conference game is a trivia question.
It’s a created category. Women have already kicked for college football teams, so ... let’s pretend it’s a huge deal if a woman kicks in a certain football conference.
(For the record, Katie Hnida made two extra points for New Mexico in 2003. April Goss had an extra point for Kent State in 2015.)
I can’t really speak for Sarah Fuller, of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s mildly disgusted by all this pandering. By people loudly cheering and acting all impressed that she was able to kick a football 30 yards, like it wasn’t something she could do in her sleep.
She probably also prefers for her moment to be kicking a field goal or extra point.
Fuller likely just looked forward to the challenge of kicking in a football game, and wasn’t expecting to be an “historic, game-changing moment!”
Now, she has to put up with criticism and derision on social media. Good job, ESPN.
Just to be clear, my gripe is not with Fuller. I’m glad she received the opportunity and wish she would have had a chance to try for a field goal. Playing the role of the emperor in my re-telling of the story here is ESPN and other sports media in regards to “game-changing.”
And it really wasn’t. Nothing has changed because a woman executed a squib kick.
Are colleges going to recruit woman to do squib kicks? Suppose a woman does a real kickoff? And gets blocked by someone who is bigger, stronger, more densely muscled and has a running start?
(In fact, I believe that’s why Vanderbilt had Fuller do a squib kick. They didn’t want to risk her getting hammered by a blocker.)
Yeah. So, former NFL punter Pat McAfee writes: “[It’s] Incredibly rare to be the first ever person to do something these days.”
No, it really isn’t. People are creating categories or introducing specific conditions all the time, to be the “first ever,”
Eventually, we’ll have the “first woman to make a extra point in a Power 5 Conference game,” followed by “First woman to kick a field goal in a Power 5 conference game.”
(And with Toni Harris signing a football scholarship for an NAIA school, and Becca Long signing a letter of intent to kick for NCAA D-II Adams State University, we’ll eventually have “First women to sign a football scholarship at an NCAA D-I school, first to sign at a Power 5 school — oh, and since Harris is a safety, we’ll have all these “First Woman positional player to sign at various levels of college football other than NAIA ...”)
Sorry; field goals and extra points have already been done. To suggest doing it for a specific conference is somehow more special or impressive is to demean the accomplishments of Heaston and Butler.
And with that, the story ends. Next week, maybe we’ll have some Baltimore County High School sports news. Possibly even good. But not likely.