ESPN's 'Outside the Lines' Sunday featured a story on transgender basketball player Kye Allums hours before the start of the Women's Final Four. The piece covered a lot of territory from Kye's relationship with his mother, Rolanda DelaMartinez, to his high school basketball career, to the acceptance of his team at George Washington. Two videos of the segment are after the jump.
I was disappointed that columnist and ESPN regular Kevin Blackistone continually said Kye is a woman and referred to him as "she." Even more disappointing was a strange focus in the piece on the claim that it is "unhealthy" for Kye to play on a women's basketball team. I asked that question of Kye months ago and his response was spot-on: It would be far more unhealthy to remove him from his team that he loves and that loves him. To watch this segment on 'Outside The Lines', you'd think him playing a sport he enjoys with the support structure he has relied on for three years is somehow harmful to his health. It's a misdirected message that many ESPN viewers will take away from the piece.
The segment also featured Wendy Parker, a "sports journalist and Web editor" who seemed to claim the poor performance of the George Washington women's basketball team this season was due in part to Kye's coming out. In fact, when Kye started and finished a game the team was 3-3; They were 5-18 when he did not. Parker was also unhappy that ESPN was addressing the issue at all because there are 10,000 other women playing college basketball. Oy.
Thankfully, NCLR's Helen Carroll featured prominently in the discussion after the piece and set the record straight about what's best for Kye. I introduced Helen and Kye almost a year ago, and Helen has been an incredible resource for both Kye and George Washington University throughout the process; She was a great addition to the segment.
It was really great of the producers to include a mention of Outsports; We're always thankful when big media entities give credit to our little operation here. And I again wanted to thank Jenelle DeVits for connecting us with Kye originally.
In full disclosure, ESPN had invited me onto the show a couple weeks ago but rescinded the invitation Friday afternoon. I just hope they dropped me for Helen, who was great; The other two did a big disservice to the topic and to transgender people.