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Dick’s CEO apologizes to girl who blasted sports retailer over catalog gender imbalance

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A 12-year-old girl from Arizona called out Dick’s Sporting Goods for failing to include female athletes in its 2014 basketball catalog — and got plenty of backup on the Web.

Now the company’s CEO has responded and offered to apologize in person to McKenna Peterson and her family.

McKenna’s letter to the company, which her father tweeted, drew attention to the lack of gender equality in its latest basketball ads.

“I think that girls should be treated as equally as boys are treated,” she wrote. “I, myself, enjoying playing and watching basketball, WOMENS basketball.”

The self-proclaimed “Fabulous Basketball Player” was praised on Twitter for bringing attention to the issue.

Although the basketball catalog does include women, they are portrayed in passive or supportive roles: “sitting in the stands” or “mentioned once in the catalog on page 5 for some shoes” or as “cheerleaders on some coupons,” McKenna wrote.

“It’s hard enough for girls to break through in this sport as it is, without you guys excluding us from your catalog,” she added.

The Petersons said they might take their business elsewhere unless Dick’s resolved to include more women in its advertising; McKenna even named several of her favorite professional women’s basketball players who would fit the bill in the letter.

“Maybe my dad will take me to some other store that supports girls to actually PLAY basketball and follow their dreams and not sit on the sidelines and watch the game to get my next pair of shoes and equipment,” McKenna wrote.

McKenna’s father, Chris Peterson, tweeted out a response note the family received from Dick’s and expressed his disappointment with the “form letter.”

A Dick’s representative later contacted the family by phone.

“They said that they liked her letter and that in future publications they will consider putting more women in the catalog,” Peterson told CNN. “They also pointed us to a commercial that they are running that apparently has a girl in it. It was a very nice conversation that McKenna re-stated her opinion that there needs to be more girls represented.”

Over the weekend, Dick’s CEO Ed Stack addressed McKenna’s concerns in a letter the company posted to Twitter. Stack said Dick’s “messed up” and promised to include female athletes in the next basketball catalog. He also offered to meet with the family during a future trip to Arizona.

7 comments

  • Dustin Cavanaugh

    I’m all for equal rights but the 12 year old femin*zi is disturbing. Equal rights is not “I’m going to give this company bad public relations because they don’t do things exactly how I think they should”

    • Karen

      She was pointing out to them that women were not included and all they did was send her a form letter in response. This was the only way to garner their attention. She is not at all being a feminazi, simply standing up for equality.

    • whatThe?

      A feminist is someone who believes both genders should enjoy the same rights and opportunities as human beings. A nazi is something completely different. Calling a 12 year old girl names because you don’t like that she and her father spoke up about something they believe in makes you look very ignorant.

      • Dustin Cavanaugh

        A feminist and a femin*zi are also two entirely different terms with two entirely different meaning. It’s a description not a name.

      • Dustin Cavanaugh

        and giving them negative publicity without talking to them first is a bad way to go about it. Hence the femin*zi tag instead of a feminist tag.

  • Epiglotus MccFadden

    Even as young as 12 years old, they are crying out to be the center of attention. It continues into adulthood and culminates in false allegations of abuse, followed by child support and alimony. That’s how it works.

  • Areisa Hawthorne

    Sounds like the gentlemen in the comments section are a little perturbed by the fact that an articulate perspective from a twelve year old girl had such an effect on a company – a company that responded based not only on the letter, but the immense support she garnered on the web and through social media.

    It’s important to note that Dick’s is a company. A company that does not want bad PR, which ostensibly could end up with them losing business, or relationships that matter to them on the corporate level. This young girl’s family was smart, taking to social media to post all the replies they got from the company. Had Dick’s thought about their PR reply before sending the first response, this would have been handled quickly and with more privacy.

    As for the men who have devoted their somewhat insecure opinions to this page – are you afraid that your masculinity is being challenged by a pre-teen who was observant enough to see the absence of women in a catalogue? Or are you angry that she spoke up about it, bringing it to the attention of a company?

    Strong women will always intimidate weak men, as evidenced by this comment thread. Only weak men would choose to try to debase a strong girl for speaking her mind, and how utterly childish your comments have all been. Grown men complaining, as if your mundane words could change the self-confidence of a child who was raised to speak her mind.

    I would suggest that some of you think before speaking, but I know that’s difficult when you speak from fear. So be it.

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