Conservative personalities are rallying around ESPN broadcaster Samantha Ponder after she was criticized by a USA Today article for calling for fairness in women’s sports.
The controversy stems from an April 19 tweet in which Ponder sided with former collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines’ criticism of the Biden Administration’s proposal to amend Title IX. Ponder agreed allowing transgender athletes in competitive sports would strip away opportunities from women.
“This would take away so many opportunities for biological women and girls in sports. It is a shame that we are needing to fight for the integrity of Title IX in 2023 and the reason it was needed in the first place. #savewomensports,” Ponder tweeted. (RELATED: ‘Trans Lives Matter’: Joe Biden Again Pledges To Sign Bill That Would Force Male Athletes Into Girls’ Sports)
Ponder added that a number of prominent figures have reached out to her privately, thanking her for speaking out.
“I can handle the negativity, but what’s most concerning is the number of prominent people who reached out privately (from a variety of companies) and said they agree but are afraid to lose their jobs if they speak out in defense of women/girls,” she said in a separate Tweet.
USA Today’s Nancy Armour took aim at Ponder’s commentary in a May 29 piece, accusing the ESPN star of “bigotry” and asking why she hasn’t spoken up about other forms of discrimination women face in athletics. Armour accused Ponder of transphobia and wanting to see transgender people “marginalized out of existence.”
A series of conservatives including Jason Whitlock, Riley Gaines, and Greg Gutfeld defended Ponder.
As a woman who directly experienced the injustice of competing and changing in a locker room with a male, I proudly thank @samponder ! You weren’t there so you didn’t see the tears that I saw from girls who missed out on podium spots. You didn’t feel that extreme discomfort in…
— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) May 29, 2023
“As a woman who directly experienced the injustice of competing and changing in a locker room with a male, I proudly thank
@samponder,” Gaines tweeted in response to Armour. “You weren’t there so you didn’t see the tears that I saw from girls who missed out on podium spots. You didn’t feel that extreme discomfort in the locker room. You didn’t face the silencing that we did from our universities. You didn’t see mothers and fathers crying in the stands. Sam is a hero for speaking the truth for those who can’t.”
Whitlock commended Ponder, commending the ESPN star for being “brave” and asked why men are silent on the issue of transgender athletes in women’s sports.
“Because the executives running the network are petrified of the Alphabet Mafia and the on-air talent fear social media backlash. It’s collective cowardice,” Whitlock wrote on Wednesday.
Gutfeld slammed Armour’s op-ed, claiming the writer slandered Ponder with the intention of forcing the anchor into silence on the topic.
“[I]t’s not just name-calling, it’s actually a serious slander for the accusation carries social stigmas that will follow you online forever. And that’s the point, isn’t it? That the threat of the smear will scare you into silence, which is what Armour hopes to do to high-level female athletes.”