The battle to reserve female sports for biological women found an ally Wednesday in an unlikely place — ESPN.
Samantha Ponder, host of “Sunday NFL Countdown,” spoke in support of female swimmer Riley Gaines and her criticism of a Biden Administration plan that would let some transgender women compete in female sports.
Ms. Gaines had tweeted that using Title IX to allow trans women, i.e., biological males, to compete in the women’s division is unfair, and her point received quick support from Ms. Ponder on Wednesday.
“This would take away so many opportunities for biological women and girls in sports,” Ms. Ponder wrote in a “quote” tweet that also amplified Ms. Gaines’ post.
“It is a shame that we are needing to fight for the integrity of Title IX in 2023 and the reason it was needed in the first place. #savewomensports,” she wrote.
The first several dozen public replies on Twitter were almost all positive — “you don’t see any girls ‘transitioning’ and making the football team”; “Preach Sam and Riley!!” and “100% agree.”
Ms. Ponder’s public statement against trans women competing alongside biological women breaks with her network, which has become a frequent target of conservatives for its insertion of woke politics into sports.
Lia Thomas, a biological male who switched from the University of Pennsylvania men’s team to the women’s team, was honored by ESPN in a Women’s History Month segment in March.
Ms. Gaines’ tweet referred to the former Penn swimmer, against whom she had swum when the two were in college, and a video appearance backing the proposed Biden rule.
“Under the guise of competitive fairness?” Ms. Gaines wrote incredulously. ”Are you really trying to say you would have won a national title against the men? Does it not break your heart to see women lose out on these opportunities?”
Ms. Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle final at the 2022 NCAA swimming championships, but had an undistinguished career on the Penn men’s team but joined the women’s team after taking a year off to transition.