It took awhile, but the reckoning over sexual harassment and assault has finally reached the business of pro sports.
Jerry Richardson, the owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, said on Sunday that he would sell the team following damning allegations about his behavior. In a searing report, Sports Illustrated found that at least four former Panthers employees have received “significant” monetary settlements due to inappropriate comments and conduct by Richardson, who is one of the most influential owners in the league. The news came days after a court filing from Jami Cantor, a former wardrobe stylist at the NFL network, that accused executives and analysts at the network, many of whom are former NFL stars, of lewd and disturbing conduct.
Is this the beginning of a long-overdue shake-up in the male-dominated boardrooms and back offices of pro sports? “They’re coming,” says Michael Kimmel, founder of the Center for The Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University, who predicts that a wave of accusations against sports figures will emerge. “One big difference in 2017 is that women are being believed. Women are not on trial. Their credibility is not the issue. Men’s behavior is the issue. That is the biggest change right now.”