The women’s national baseball team manager has quit over a ‘sexist’ post on social media which showed a topless female player promoting the sport.
Amanda ‘Doris’ Hocking, a sports development and coaching student at Plymouth Marjon University, resigned after spotting a tweet from the British Baseball Federation (BBF) which appeared to use a ‘sexualised’ image.
The post, which was also shared on Instagram, was used to promote the new Women’s Baseball League and Women’s Baseball UK – an organisation that Ms Hocking founded in 2017.
The 34-year-old felt the tweet could damage her reputation and that of women’s baseball, so asked for it to be removed. But, at first, the BBF defended the post and kept it on their official page, which has more than 5,000 followers, for 12 hours.
Sports teams across the UK joined Ms Hocking in asking for the tweet to be removed and called for a response from the BBF.
Disappointed in the post and the BBF’s initial refusal to remove it, the baseball pioneer decided to step down from her role on the national women’s team as a way of ‘standing up’ against sexism in sport.
Amanda ‘Doris’ Hocking (pictured above), 34, resigned after spotting a tweet from the British Baseball Federation (BBF) which appeared to use a ‘sexualised’ image
She said: ‘I knew I had to go to the extreme length of resigning to be listened to. I’ve put a lot of work into developing women’s baseball, so I had to stand up for it.
‘It’s a fresh slate now though, it’s been an incredibly difficult time, but I think women’s baseball in the UK will come out of this stronger and more welcoming.’
As well as being the manager of the UK women’s baseball team, Ms Hocking has played baseball at an international level and was the first player from the UK to compete on the European women’s baseball team.
After her complaint about the post, and the BBF’s initial refusal to take it down, the president of the BBF and five other board members have resigned, while the federation has posted a public apology to Ms Hocking and ‘others that felt offended’.
The apology reads: ‘Following the resignation of Mr G Perez as President of the BBF on Friday, the Board of the BBF is taking immediate steps to provide continuity in the management of all aspects of baseball as the NGB [national governing body] of the sport in the United Kingdom.
‘In the first instance, the BBF would like to extend its sincerest apology to Amanda Hocking, founder of Women’s Baseball UK, as well as to WB-UK as an entity. We also wish to apologise to others that felt offended.
‘The promotion of the new Women’s Baseball League in a tweet on 25 April included an image of a female baseball player that was inappropriate, and Ms Hocking felt personally offended and that her professional reputation had been harmed.
‘We apologise for any hurt or harm caused to Ms Hocking, and the BBF intends to work together with Ms Hocking, WB-UK, and other members of the baseball community to analyse the structural failures within the BBF that led to this unfortunate incident.’
The post, also shared on Instagram (above), was used to promote the new Women’s Baseball League and Women’s Baseball UK – an organisation that Ms Hocking founded in 2017
Confirming her resignation, Ms Hocking said: ‘Unfortunately due to recent events I felt that I had no choice than to resign to have my voice heard.
‘There was an inappropriate tweet, a sexualised image of a female player. I reached out to the person that tweeted it in the BBF, told them to take it down politely. I told them it was inappropriate, they argued that.
‘It took a number of hours for it to be taken down but the damage was already done by that point. Everyone was fuming and rightly so.
‘I asked for a public apology the next day, again defended. I basically gave them a deadline of another public apology and that person’s resignation otherwise we’d be walking away as an organisation from the BBF. It went a bit quiet.
‘I knew what I needed to do to be taken seriously and that was to resign. I do have quite a bit of respect in the UK baseball world and internationally, I knew that it would cause some upset and I went ahead and thought ‘I need to do this for the girls’.’
Ms Hocking’s story has appeared in The New York Times, amid allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct in major league baseball in the US in recent months.
Speaking on her devastation over the social media post, she told the newspaper: ‘It broke my heart.
As well as being the manager of the UK women’s baseball team, Ms Hocking (above) has played baseball at an international level and was the first player from the UK to compete on the European women’s baseball team
‘Ever since I was a kid it has been my dream to play baseball for Britain and to build this league and be taken seriously. And then it was shattered. [The post] was damaging to my reputation and to the reputation of the whole league.’
Ms Hocking has thanked her lecturers at Plymouth Marjon University for their ongoing support, while the university has praised her for standing up for change in British baseball.
She said: ‘I reached out to my lecturers, they were brilliant.’
Ms Hocking added: I’ve fallen behind on my assignments because of what I’ve been dealing with, but the whole university has been brilliant.’
Senior lecturer for Sports, Phil Brown, said: ‘Through the Sport Development and Coaching programme, we discuss good practice and failures in sports governance, and issues associated with inequality and gender representations in sport.
‘These issues came together in the recent episode of British Baseball. I was so impressed with the dignity and courage Amanda showed in what was a really difficult situation.
‘She has been an inspiration in standing up for the values and principles of inclusive sport.’
The BBF said it would ensure a similar situation doesn’t happen again.
Interim board members have formed a working group to develop a plan before an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to nominate new members to board roles.
This will include roles focused on diversity and media. On Twitter, only images of real baseball players will be used in future promotional posts.
Source: Daily Mail UK