Sam Ponder, an ESPN announcer, faced criticism on Sunday after USA Today’s Nancy Armour wrote an opinion piece on her support for maintaining the fairness and equality of women’s sports.
The appeals for transgender athletes to compete in sports against the gender they were born as, rather than the gender they identify with, have been spearheaded by Riley Gaines, who has gained the support of Ponder and fellow ESPN colleague Sage Steele. Since she and Lia Thomas tied for first place in the NCAA Championship in 2022, Gaines has been in the spotlight.
After Gaines tweeted the texts she received about transgender high school runners competing in the females category in California, Ponder recently brought up the subject once more.
“Don’t be misled by those who use the word ‘fairness’ as a cover for their prejudice against transgender girls and women, especially those who have the audacity to wish to participate in sports,” Armour said in the opening of the essay.
“This is about hate, fear, and ignorance, and it always has been.”
Ponder’s decision to speak up on this subject rather than on how girls’ and women’s sports don’t receive equal financing to boys’ and men’s sports particularly incensed Armour.
Did Ponder make use of her platform to voice her disgust over any of this? Encourage her almost 500,000 Twitter followers to write or call their elected officials to demand that women receive the funds and opportunities they are due? Did she publicly take part in any of the numerous fantastic films, videos, and commentaries that ESPN produced last year to honour the 50th anniversary of Title IX? What about tweeting about them? wrote Armour.
“She didn’t, no. Her public concern about ‘fairness’ for female athletes begins and ends with the extremely small number of transsexual women who play sports.
With her tweets, Ponder, according to Armour, “further amplified the bogeyman that cisgender women’s participation in sports is being threatened by transgender girls and young women,” placing transgender individuals in danger.
According to Armour, Ponder’s viewpoints have nothing to do with “fairness.”
A Washington Post-KFF survey conducted earlier this month revealed that the majority of American adults disagree with biological men participating in women’s sports and think gender is defined at birth.
Sixty-six percent of American adults disagree that biological males should be allowed to compete against women in high school athletic competitions, while 34% do.