WHY CAM MATTERS

And why the fallout is even uglier than his words

 

By Laura Okmin
FOX SPORTS Broadcaster
Founder of GALvanize – A company for women in sports

I couldn’t sleep last night. It’s hard to sleep when for the past dozen or so hours you’ve been called a c*nt, a b*itch and much, much worse. (I didn’t even know there WAS worse). I appreciated every wonderful person who reached out to me and said, “Don’t take any of those vile responses you’re getting personally.” But it’s hard to feel so much rage directed at you – and not take it personally. It FEELS very personal.

I’d like to share a story about Cam Newton. A few years back, I asked Cam who he trusted in the media. His response was nobody. I told him I wanted to work on earning his trust so we spent months vetting each other – with everything we said being off the record. When the Panthers made the playoffs that year – and Cam played incredibly – the team wanted him to do a 1-on-1 interview, which he normally didn’t do. Cam and I sat down for 30 minutes and he told me everything we had talked about off the record was now on record: His brother and dad sitting him down to talk about his immaturity, his work he was doing to be a better person and leader, and his growth. It’s still one of my favorite conversations I’ve ever had on camera. One of the most realist.

I share this story because Cam didn’t vet me as a “woman.” He vetted me as a reporter who spent months getting to know him with no agenda other than earning his trust. I was so disappointed when I saw his comments and even more saddened/disgusted/angry with the box he’s opened. With the green light he’s given – aware of it or not.

So, back to that box. To those of you who threw out every vulgar slur at me in defense of Cam…. He doesn’t need your help. You know how I know that? Because I actually DO know Cam. And when I see him a couple weeks from now, I’ll look forward to a conversation that’s much more civil and respectful than what I’ve witnessed on social media.

To all who said I’ve never run a route…that’s not my job. My job is to get someone to trust and respect me enough to share his story – a very vulnerable story – so I could share his story and the lessons he’s learned from it to the many who want to hear it. That’s my job and one I take extremely seriously. It’s a privilege to be trusted with someone’s most valuable thing they have – their story. The responsibility weighs heavily on me – and it was extra heavy with Cam, knowing he had a lot to say and leery/wary of sharing it. That’s how 25 years in the business helps. It prepares you for the weight.

To the very many who called me sensitive….as a woman who coaches and mentors women, I choose a different word. Protective. I’m sad these incredible, hard working young women are dealing with exactly what I dealt with 25 years ago – but with more ugliness than I ever could’ve imagined. THAT drives me and GALvanize more than anything.

Most importantly, the most heartfelt THANK YOU to a day that reminded me how important – and needed- a sisterhood is. Not just women supporting women, mind you. Times like this truly make you wonderful men who support women shine even brighter.

Empathy. It’s been on my mind and lips so often these days. More empathy for all, please.