The Tayla Harris picture may become one of the iconic sporting moments in time. And it should. A beautifully taken image of a powerful athlete with amazing form…. and some serious hang time in that follow through! Iconic also because it will represent a moment that Tayla stood up to disgraceful abuse, and an incident where women and men alike stood up and said, “no more”.
No longer are people going to tolerate disgusting comments made to female athletes by immature pigs and it has been heartening to see so many men stand with Tayla and shame these animals. As a father of a little girl I would hate for her to experience this type of abuse, and as a father of two boys it is even more important to give them the life lesson that this isn’t how men behave.
What hasn’t been talked about with this incident yet is the damage beyond the abuse. Historically, 54% of females stop playing sport because of derogatory comments made about their appearance while competing. That is not ok. The mental anguish young women obviously face at this type of abuse not only reduces their participation in the sport, but their self-worth. What gives these animals (I won’t call them men) the right to have such an awful impact on someone’s life? And for what purpose?
Having played college football in the US at the University of Connecticut I had the privilege to watch some of the best basketballers of all time. I was lucky enough to call them my friends. Superstars like Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird were awe inspiring to watch and the team work and tactics in women’s basketball is second to none. What if Diana and Sue called it a day because of shameless abuse about their sex or sexuality? The basketball world would have lost some genuine superstars and young girls lost some aspirational heroes. We are lucky that basketball is a very inclusive sport.
This Tayla Harris situation almost had to happen. The stats back up that it is a common issue for female athletes and that is appalling. Before this incident I didn’t know the stats about participation declining, the mental health issues it creates, nor that this was such a common challenge for these athletes. I just used to enjoy watching elite athletes compete. I like to think I am in the majority of men who appreciate talent for what it is and hopefully time proves me right. It is time to silence the animals into insignificance.
No more “see no evil, hear no evil.” Be better men.
Written by Adam Coles – Commercial Director of Adelaide Lightning