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Opinion: President Donald Trump's National Garden of American Heroes missing women sports figures

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 1/19/2021 Mike Freeman, USA TODAY
Serena Williams hitting a ball with a racket: Serena Williams: Tennis, United States. More than two decades after her Olympic debut, Williams has yet to commit to competing in Tokyo but would naturally be one of the GamesÕ top draws if she does. © Danielle Parhizkaran, USA TODAY Sports Serena Williams: Tennis, United States. More than two decades after her Olympic debut, Williams has yet to commit to competing in Tokyo but would naturally be one of the GamesÕ top draws if she does.

President Donald Trump on Monday signed an amendment to his July executive order putting 244 people into what he named the "National Garden of American Heroes." The sports figures on it are fascinating, but you may notice something missing.

There's Muhammad Ali (excellent choice), Roberto Clemente (another excellent choice), Jackie Robinson (ditto), and Vince Lombardi ...

You're going to notice a pattern.

From NFL plays to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day.

Baseball greats Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Cy Young are on ...

You see it?

Track star Jesse Owens and basketball player Kobe Bryant made the garden. It goes on.

There are some impressive sports names, but out of the 11 athletes and two coaches on the list there are no women. Not one. Initially, I thought it was some sort of error, but nope, not a single female athlete, coach or prominent figure is on the list.

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What's weird is that there are non-sports women on the list like Aretha Franklin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Emily Dickinson.

This could be an oversight but Trump announced months ago he was going to do this, so that seems unlikely. That level of incompetence seems beyond even this administration.

The other possibility is the most obvious one. Trump, and the people around him who likely helped him construct the list, don't see women as athletes.

Women as athletes? Yuck. Cooties.

We don't need to go through Trump's history with women and how he views them. It's all there on the Google machine. Let's just say sometimes his views of women are one dimensional.

The original idea for the garden was in response to the Black Lives Matters protests over the summer, and also the removal of monuments honoring Confederate soldiers and other figures. 

The monument doesn't have funding or even a site, and there's a good chance it never gets built. But that's not really the point. It's meant to be some type of statement, and part of that statement, at least to women sports heroes, is that you don't matter.

Part of the order reads: "The National Garden will feature a roll call of heroes who deserve honor, recognition, and lasting tribute because of the battles they won, the ideas they championed, the diseases they cured, the lives they saved, the heights they achieved, and the hope they passed down to all of us."

Yes, Ali met this criterion, easily. So did Robinson and Clemente and every male athlete on this list, like Lombardi.

But so did tennis player Billie Jean King. She wasn't just one of the best athletes in American history, she also fought for equal rights for women. She's on the same footing as any of the sports men on the list. So is Babe Didrikson Zaharias, a magnificent all-around athlete who won two gold medals in track and field during the 1932 Olympics before winning 10 LPGA majors.

(And yes, I'm putting people  who are still alive on the list because not every hero has to be dead.)

An argument could be made that Serena Williams is the greatest athlete this country's ever produced, and fits the Trump criteria of "heights they achieved, and the hope they passed down to all of us."

Same with track star Wilma Rudolph. She won three golds in the 1960 Olympics and remains one of the most inspirational Black athletes of all time. Same with Althea Gibson, who was the first Black to win a Grand Slam title, and was also a talented golfer.

There's Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Martina Navratilova, Simone Biles, Ronda Rousey, Nancy Lopez, Lindsey Vonn, Danica Patrick and Megan Rapinoe.

Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt could be a centerpiece in the garden.

This isn't to say all these women should be on the list, but a lot of them should, and the fact none of them are is just another strange chapter in a Presidency full of them (and that's being generous).

Maybe it's not too late for Trump to fix this error. It's also possible this is all purposeful. He's left women sports figures out because he wanted to, and has no intention of changing anything.

There is one place where Trump would definitely put sports women figures.

In the kitchen.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opinion: President Donald Trump's National Garden of American Heroes missing women sports figures

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