By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – Soon, my daughter will lace up her basketball shoes for the last time and play her final high school game.
My wife and I will be there, cheering for her and her teammates. When she walks off the floor for the last time, all three of us – mother, father, daughter – will be in tears.
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
My daughter never has been the most talented player on the court. What she’s accomplished she did by working hard, by giving her all at every game, by always thinking of the team first. She doesn’t quit when things are tough and she doesn’t cruise when things are going well.
She learned to be both dignified and determined in defeat.
And she never has failed to be gracious and complimentary to her opponents in victory.
As you probably can tell, I’m proud of her.
Her games have been special to me. When I think of the lessons she learned and the friendships she developed by playing, I cannot imagine a world in which she would not have those opportunities.
The thing is, though, that not all that long ago – in my lifetime, in fact – my daughter and millions of other young women wouldn’t have had an experience like this one. Not that many years ago, playing sports was considered “unladylike.” Young women were expected to be demure and docile.
In these past days, as we’ve watched the massive women’s marches on Washington and in other cities take place and as we’ve seen two Indiana lawmakers make jerks out of themselves in response, I’ve thought a lot about how far we’ve come.
And how far we still need to go.
The reaction to the marches from our leaders has been disheartening.
At the most serious level, the Trump administration and its surrogates have tried to dismiss the huge turnouts by either attempting to diminish the numbers of people involved or to denigrate them as sore losers who can’t accept the election results.
That’s not what I saw and heard.
The women – and men – who turned out had a simple message: We want to be heard. We want respect.
The less-serious response has been even more discouraging.
Two Indiana lawmakers – state Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, and state Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour – opted to give free rein to their inner misogynists on Facebook.
Sandlin posted a meme with a picture from the march that said, “In one day, Trump got more fat women out walking than, Michelle Obama did in 8 years.” (The creative – and ungrammatical – comma placement was part of the meme.)
When his post provoked an uproar, Sandlin said he had no idea how it got there. That, I guess, is the “alternative facts” way of dealing with a problem.
Lucas is another story altogether. He posted a photo of a woman being pepper sprayed with the words “Participation trophies now in liquid form.” This followed an earlier post that talked about a husband locking his wife and his dog into the trunk of a car to see which one loved him more.
When he was challenged about the posts, Lucas first dismissed them as jokes.
Then he claimed he was the real victim.
That’s a reflex for Lucas, who is the chief water carrier in Indiana for the National Rifle Association. No matter how awful the tragedy – a two-year-old being killed in a drive-by or an entire grade school being slaughtered – Lucas is always the first to insist that he, his fellow gun owners and their weapons are the ones who really deserve the public’s sympathy.
It bothers me that these two elected officials can’t – to use a term doubtless dear to them – “man up” and admit they did something wrong, accept responsibility for it and offer a genuine apology.
Their posts and their tone-deaf response to criticism make me wonder if they don’t have daughters, wives, mothers and sisters. Don’t they want the women in their lives taken seriously and treated with respect?
Soon, my daughter will finish her last high school basketball game. She will walk off the court with her head held high. She’s always respected herself, her teammates, her opponents, the rules and the game itself.
In other words, she’s behaved better – much better – than some leaders who are supposed to represent her.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.