ESPN broadcaster Sam Ponder has caused a stir after saying it’s “not obnoxious to demand fairness in sport for girls” amid the debate over trans athletes.
The American sports commentator, 37, received a mix of comments after standing up for young women who felt they had been unfairly removed from their sport’s rosters to be replaced by trans women.
Sam Ponder wrote on Twitter: “I barely said anything publicly about this issue and got so many msgs from people stop me in the street to say thanks + tell me stories about the girls who are afraid to speak out for fear of losing a job/being called a hater [sic].
“It’s not abhorrent to demand fairness in sport for girls.”
She was referring to comments from Riley Gaines, who shared messages sent by young sportswomen who felt threatened that their places in the queues would be taken by trans women – leaving them feeling helpless.
Former college swimmer Gaines called it “discrimination against women and bullying at its best”.
Ponder backed the post, saying what they’re asking for is fairness and shouldn’t be called “hateful” for it.
Sam Ponder received a mix of comments after standing up for young women who felt they had been unfairly removed from their sport’s rosters to be replaced by trans women
USA Today’s Nancy Armor slammed Ponder, writing, “Don’t be fooled by people who shout about ‘fairness’ to mask their bigotry towards transgender girls and women, transgender girls and women who have the audacity to want to do sport, in particular’
But she was criticized for her opinion, as people called Ponder a transphobe for sharing her belief.
One person said, ‘Uh oh, Sam. Be prepared to be called into the boss’s office for this. Another added: “So you’re a transphobe, cool.” Another showing their true colors.
Nancy’s armor from USA Today also wrote in a comment on Ponder: “Don’t be fooled by people shouting about ‘equity’ to mask their bigotry towards transgender girls and women, transgender girls and women who have the audacity to want to play sports, in particular.’
“His public concern about ‘fairness’ for female athletes begins and ends with the tiny number of transgender women who participate in sports.
“If Ponder really wanted to champion women’s sport, she had ample opportunity. But she didn’t. Because it has nothing to do with “fairness”.
Others, however, sided with Ponder.
One person said, “You have earned my following. Thank you for having the courage to speak.
Another added: “Thank you for speaking up for women’s sport for girls. It’s totally unfair for a biological boy or man to compete against biological girls and women.
Sage Steele wrote: ‘Pathetic attack on a WOMAN who is simply fighting for other WOMEN in sport.
‘Armor chooses to direct his emotions against the facts. “Follow the science”, right? ! When in doubt, just pull the bigot/race card! Comical. Stay strong Sam Ponder…it’s a lonely fight, but it’s worth it!’
It comes weeks after ex-ESPN reporter Charly Arnolt slammed his former employer for allegedly contradicting their ‘no politics’ rule – a month after the network aired a tribute to the transgender swimmer Lia Thomas during Women’s Month.
Arnolt announced earlier this week that she was leaving the world leader of OutKick and spoke to Fox News about her issues with her former company – where she felt “suffocated” and “uncomfortable” due to the business culture.
Trans women participating in sports experience a range of physiological benefits, which are largely due to exposure to testosterone early in life
“ESPN has been very adamant about keeping politics out of their programming, but you just saw at the end of last month that they did quite a tribute, during Women’s Month, to Lia Thomas,” Arnolt said, via the NY Post.
“So it doesn’t exactly look like they’re keeping politics completely out of the way. But I have to commend [Sage Steele and Sam Ponder] for standing up for these women who, sadly, are losing so much of the success they worked so hard for.
“I think there are a lot of women who are uncomfortable advocating for women’s rights because they don’t want to be seen as politically incorrect, because it’s really crazy where this world and this conversation went,” Arnolt said later.
Thomas sparked controversy in the college sports world after becoming the first transgender athlete to win a Division 1 national title in women’s swimming. Thomas previously competed in the men’s division at the University of Pennsylvania before transitioning.
At the time, Ponder also opined, “It would take away so many opportunities for biological women and girls in sport.” It’s too bad we have to fight for the integrity of Title IX in 2023 and why it was needed in the first place.