BOSTON (CBS) — Perhaps no “controversy” in the history of sports has ever centered around something so innocuous as a simple tweet.

The content of that one tweet from one man sparked a national debate, with UConn women’s hoops head coach Geno Auriemma firing back, and with ESPN dedicating an entire day of programming around the so-called “attack” on women’s athletics.

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It was all too much for Fred Toucher to take. Below is some of the conversation that took place on Tuesday’s Toucher & Rich program, edited for clarity and brevity.

Fred Toucher: Everyone knows that we’re in a culture now, it’s a victim culture, it’s a social media justice culture. There are social media justice warriors, but it can also just be media justice warriors — media-on-media justice warriors. Bret Easton Ellis calls it a “poptimist,” which means you can’t make fun of anything mainstream or anything that’s going on that’s at all public, because if you do then you’re a hater, or they can infer something else about you.

And right now, that’s women’s college basketball.

Now, not a lot of people watch women’s college basketball. I think 24 million people watch the men’s final and a little under 2 million watch the women’s final. It’s just not that popular. But obviously UConn has done everything right. They dominate women’s college basketball. They dominate like no one else dominates in sports. They’re doing nothing wrong. They’re recruiting the best players. They’re coached well. And they’re dominating on the court. 

Dan Shaughnessy had the audacity to share an opinion. Dan Shaughnessy, on Twitter, said that in his opinion, the excellence of the UConn women’s team was killing the college game, and he doesn’t want to watch it.

So Dan Shaughnessy, in his brain, as a human being and an individual, said that he believes that UConn women’s college basketball is too good and it’s making the game less interesting. And people in the media all over the place have taken this and run.

Do you understand that you’re not allowed to have an opinion on something in your hotel room while watching something on television? It exists, so you must like it. That is what’s going on now.

“You don’t like it; you’re a hater!”

“Oh, you don’t like women’s college basketball?! You’re sexist!”

Wait a second.

If I don’t like women’s college basketball, and I prefer men’s college basketball, what does it have to do with liking women or not liking women? Nothing. It’s having a personal opinion. It’s your taste. It’s your likes and dislikes. It hurts nobody.

Rich Shertenlieb: Well, you heard all day yesterday and the day before about ESPN twisting it into not being about the game not being competitive, but being about Dan Shaughnessy hating women. It’s gotten to point where it’s ridiculous. And I know it pains a lot of people to defend Dan Shaughnessy, but in this case, the talking heads were turning this into something about women.

Fred: Because now I’m a savior. Now I’m coming in and gallantly saving the day for women everywhere because I am open-minded and I enjoy everything that’s on television. So who is the most gallant? Who was saving the day and speaking for all women?

Rich: Well, I would say that would be ESPN’s Holly Rowe. Here’s what Rowe said yesterday:

“I think that one, mission accomplished, because he probably was trying to draw attention to himself and he has, so that’s unfortunate that we’re talking about him instead of Breanna Stewart, or Morgan Tuck, or Moriah Jefferson, or these women who have been busting their butts for 70 straight wins. Kids this age, you try to get any kid to do anything 70 straight times? Come on. So I’m angry that he wants to take this moment away from those kids who have worked so hard.”

“No! [UConn’s women’s basketball team is not boring.] Absolutely not! I thought Geno’s comment was perfect. We never thought Tiger’s dominance was boring. Someone, Jody Conradt, the Texas coach that has retired, told me it’s kind of like that four-minute mile. No one in America, no one in the world thought that you could break the four-minute mile, until someone did it and then everyone could. So people don’t think you can beat UConn, but somebody can and will, and then everything will start to change. Texas lost to UConn last year in the Sweet Sixteen by 51 points. Texas is a better team today because of that loss; they’ve won 31 games this season. It fueled their entire offseason workout; their strength and conditioning coach would be yelling ’51 points, 51 points.’ People are better because they’re chasing UConn. It’s great for the women’s game because they have set a standard that people are trying to get to.”

“Yes, [there is an anti-women sentiment]. If this was a men’s team doing this, there’s no way he makes that comment. Nobody says the Warriors are bad for basketball, so I do think it is a sexist comment.”

Fred: Do you really think that Dan Shaughnessy, who’s been writing for 40 years, do you really think that he tweeted that thinking, “You know what? This is really going to catch fire.” Of all the things, the millions of words that that guy’s written in his career, do you think that just going like, “Ah, UConn basketball is making this all boring” was going to register?

And thank you, Holly Rowe, for getting inside of the brain of Dan Shaughnessy, which she did. She just inferred through her own circular logic, based on nothing that Dan Shaughnessy had written, that it was an anti-women’s sentiment.

And by the way, she said that he should be focusing on X, Y and Z. Why?! Why does Dan Shaughnessy have to focus on that? He’s under no obligation to focus on that. None. Why? Why? Why does Dan Shaughnessy as a columnist for The Boston Globe have to focus on good women’s college basketball players? You have just in your own mind, Holly Rowe, started a dialogue and an idea behind an innocuous tweet to fit your own purpose.

Just because someone doesn’t enjoy something doesn’t make them an awful person who hates the people involved.

Rich: Holly Rowe, you should spend more time tweeting about my son’s talent show coming up. Because I dictate that’s important.

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Fred: My lord. Just because you don’t like something in popular cutlure doesn’t mean you’re awful. It doesn’t mean you hate women. It doesn’t mean you don’t think it should exist.

To take comments and create them in your mind into something is ludicrous and it’s what we do. You’re not allowed to dislike ANYTHING anymore!

“It’s sexist. He would have never said that about a men’s team.” Holy cow! Shaughnessy is negative about EVERYTHING with men’s teams. That’s what he’s done his entire career.

He’s allowed to not like women’s college basketball! But he didn’t even say that!

The audacity … to say that you don’t like women’s college basketball … and that makes you some sort of sexist. It cheapens the term “sexist.” It cheapens it, and it makes people that are doing things to hurt women in the workplace and doing things to take away opportunities, it cheapens all of that. Because it’s just a guy who doesn’t like something.

I like football. There’s plenty of people who think that’s barbaric and horrible.

I really enjoy baseball. There’s people who think it’s boring and well past its prime.

You’re under no obligation to like something, regardless of who’s playing it.

I don’t particularly follow the NBA. Does that make me racist? Is it because there are so many African-Americans in the sport?

There’s no nuance. There’s no ability to have conflicting opinions and talk about things now.

Rich: Because people will find what you don’t like and some hidden meaning as to why you don’t like it inside there.

Fred: And instead of just going, “All right, this person has a different opinion than I do,” maybe there could be some sort of dialogue. Instead, you just run around with a burning torch and point and say, “Scorn! Scorn! Scorn! Scorn! How dare you not like something!”

I just don’t understand why you can’t dislike something in general. And you could say, “Oh, why don’t you like it?” and someone could say, “Well, I think it’s boring.” And then person goes, “Here’s why I don’t think it’s boring.” And then the other person says, “Here’s why I think it’s boring.” And you go, “Oh. OK. I see some of what you’re saying.” And then other person says, “I see some of what YOU’RE saying. Wow, we’ve just had a dialogue. Imagine. You didn’t just point at me and go, ‘Sexist! Racist! Homophobe! Fired!’ You actually had a differing opinion as a human. Your brain had a thought that you expressed, and someone had a different thought, and you told each other why, and then maybe you agree to disagree.'”

But you can’t have an opinion. It’s “poptimism.” If you don’t like something that’s out there, then you’re a hater, or worse. And they infer the worst about you, in anything you say.

And you can disagree with Shaughnessy. Maybe you think that UConn women’s basketball is the greatest thing of all time. But that’s just having a disagreement. But the one women who just spun the thing in her brain until it came out that it was a sexist remark … it’s the easiest thing to do. It requires no thought. It’s reactionary. That’s all it is. It’s an immediate reaction.

“You don’t like something I like? That means you’re flawed. Why are you flawed? You don’t like women, I’m a woman.”

That’s a reactionary opinion. It’s not thought out. You’re not inquisitive. You’re not asking why.

So, Dan Shaughenssy for once, doesn’t deserve the criticism he’s getting.

Listen to the full audio below:

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