Who is Cheryl Cooky? Calls for Purdue prof to be fired for comparing Lia Thomas to Jackie Robinson

A professor at Purdue University has been blasted online after she compared transgender swimmer Lia Thomas to Jackie Robinson, and claimed that 'her win should be celebrated'


                            Who is Cheryl Cooky? Calls for Purdue prof to be fired for comparing Lia Thomas to Jackie Robinson
Cheryl Cooky has received criticism for saying Lia Thomas' achievements are similar to Jackie Robinson's (Purdue University and Getty Images/ Kathryn Riley and Keystone)

A professor at Purdue University has been blasted online after she compared transgender swimmer Lia Thomas to Jackie Robinson, and claimed that “her win should be celebrated”. Cheryl Cooky wrote these in an NBC op-ed titled ‘Lia Thomas' NCAA championship performance gives women sports a crucial opportunity’.

In the essay, Cooky noted, “Thomas, as the first transgender athlete to win a Division I NCAA championship, deserves to be placed among the other firsts. She should be embraced in the history of progress that sports represent and recognized as the trailblazer that she is.” She went on to say that “for anyone who cares about the advancement of sports, and women's sports in particular, her win should be celebrated.”

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The professor of American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Purdue College of Liberal Arts also stated that “change in sports doesn't happen overnight, nor is it linear. Major professional sports leagues like MLB and the NFL resisted racially integrating their player rosters. It was not until 1962 that the last NFL team, the Washington Commanders, would racially integrate.”

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas during the 2022 Ivy League Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at Blodgett Pool on February 19, 2022, in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

 

She further mentioned, “Today, athletes like Jackie Robinson are celebrated as ‘breaking the color barrier’ in sports, although that narrative often requires sanitizing, simplifying or rewriting a more complex, nuanced and contradictory history. There remains though a cultural investment in celebrating sports' 'firsts',” before adding, “Many of the athletes who become the ‘first’ encounter resistance, backlash and opposition, especially from those who have historically benefited from the status quo in sports.”

However, Cooky’s words did not seem to impress many on the internet as journalist and author Abigail Shrier tweeted, “First, they steal opportunities from women. Then, they tell us we ‘should be celebrating’ this as a victory for women. A Masterclass in Gaslighting.”

Another critic of Cooky, who wrote 'Serving Equality: Feminism, Media and Women’s Sports' with Peter Lang in 2022, said, “Purdue University Professor Cheryl Cooky wrote that Lia Thomas’ NCAA swimming victory should be celebrated. She cited a lack ‘scientific evidence’ that firmly concludes ‘a direct link between testosterone athletic performance…’ She must have missed biology class in high school.”

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas swims during the 2022 Ivy League Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at Blodgett Pool on February 18, 2022, in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

 



 

 



 

 

A tweet slamming the professor read, “Stop people like Cheryl Cooky from being a professor due to extreme ignorance comparing a man who steals womens accolades to a brilliant civil rights sports hero, Jackie Robinson. She needs to be fired. @LifeAtPurdue.”

The second tweet stated, “This professor wants to celebrate a man dominating in women sports. like we celebrate Jackie Robinson( first black man in the MLB) a man who played amongst other men. You can't make this clown crap up. Cheryl cooky. Is straight cooky.”

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas during the 2022 Ivy League Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at Blodgett Pool on February 17, 2022, in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

 



 

 



 

 



 

 



 

 

A user shared, “NBC's Cheryl Cooky [ @ProfCooky ] laughably equates a guy in drag [Lia Thomas] to Jackie Robinson Cooky [not sure if it's ‘cookie’ or ‘kooky’] doesn't recall the outrage over East German women swimmers on male hormones trying to ruin women's Olympic competition.”

Another one added, “They really want us to ‘just go with it’, & ignore the attack on women. Screw you @NBCNews & Cheryl Cooky! You're demanding women sit back & let males (who couldn't cut the mustard, in male sports), decide to ID as ‘female’, w/DISTINCT ADVANTAGES. Trans Sports/Games are needed!”

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