Who knows what the Ballon D’or is? Well, I took high school French, so I would guess it is the balloon of gold. But I would be wrong. It’s the Ball of Gold award, given by FIFA (International Football Association Federation) to the best World player of the year. The good news is that this woman– Ada Hegerberg of Norway– won the first Ballon D’or recognizing women’s professional soccer.
Yay Ada! Yay women’s soccer/football! Yay strikers! Yay women’s sports!
But now comes the bad news, which I’ll let the Washington Post (experts in delivering bad news) tell you:
Accepting the Ballon d’Or was supposed to be Hegerberg’s moment. Instead, just minutes after she concluded a heartfelt speech in which she encouraged young girls to “please believe in yourselves,” Hegerberg was approached by French disc jockey Martin Solveig, the event’s host, who had a bizarre query.
“Do you know how to twerk?” Solveig asked in French. Clearly uncomfortable, Hegerberg shook her head and responded with a terse “no,” before appearing to attempt to leave the stage.
Yes, that’s right: some guy who was hosting the event, instead of praising her or asking her about soccer/football, asks a crude sexual leering question, completely deflating her Ballon D’or. Really? Ewwwwww!
I’m happy to report a little bit more good news, though: there’s been a huge media outcry about how gross and disgusting and sexist this guy’s comment was (he deserves no more mention of his name, in my view), and a bunch of professional athletes have issued spirited and strong messages of support. Well, good– it’s no more than Hederberg deserves, and I’m glad people have her back.
In addition, the press was all over this story, and it was gleefully reported by all the major world news outlets from the BBC (which reported it at first as “an awkward moment”), the New York Times to Glamour to Business Insider, which published a story that was really about how upset tennis star Andy Murray was about the twerking comment… Sigh…
But there’s more bad news, which none of the articles I read talked about (although it’s on video). After responding “no” to the twerking invitation, the DJ twerk-asking guy,, some other male host, and I guess the producers of the show all conspired to create a happy ending: they played a Frank Sinatra song, and Hederberg very reluctantly and briefly danced with Solveig before leaving the stage. Interviewed later, Hederberg said she didn’t consider his comment to be sexual harassment, and she posed with him for a picture he posted on Twitter.
I won’t dignify the DJ guy’s non-apology by discussing it. But suffice it to say, everyone was called upon to scramble to create a rapprochement (a word I didn’t learn in high school French) between them. And Hegerberg was required to do all of the heavy lifting, all of the emotional labor, and perform all of the actions to create a pretense of bonhomie (I am totally on a French-word roll here) which had to be exhausting and sad. This is much more draining than playing in a World Cup match, I bet.
What I wish had happened was this: when gross sexist DJ worm guy asked her if she could twerk, she had said, “no, but I do know how to do this”. And she would have done what she knows oh so well how to do, which is kick balls with strength and accuracy. Like so:
After hitting her mark, then the whole audience could’ve risen to its feet, yelling:
That’s an athletic performance I’d like to have seen, one worthy of another Ballon D’or.