For women, the sports media world has been less than welcoming.
Most female broadcasters are hired based off of their looks due to networks’ ratings. To some, it’s a myth. But take it from someone who inspires to be in the sports media world – and women, too – the struggle is real, and unfair.
Sometimes I’m left wondering if people think about the hard work women put in to get to their positions.
One of my favorite women in the sports media industry is Erin Andrews. Yes, she is absolutely gorgeous, but she knows the sports she covers inside and out. That’s something that everyone in the sports media world should admire. She puts in the time and genuinely enjoys talking about sports. She’s dedicated, well-spoken and can make people realize she didn’t get hired just for her looks; she just knows sports. Period.
In an article from the Washington Post, Cindy Boren talked about sexism in sports broadcasting. Boren described the time she was emailed by a man shortly after she appeared on a radio show.
The man did not care for her words because she was a woman. She asked the man if he would rather listen to a guy in a bar talk about something he knew nothing about or a woman who’s had a successful sports journalism career. The man said he would listen to someone talk about nonsense, as long as it wasn’t a woman.
While many fans may feel this way, they have to embrace that change it coming. And that change is deserved.
The NBA has been the most accepting league by far, placing women in crucial roles throughout different aspects of the franchise. Female referees were assigned in 1997, and numerous coaching positions have been appointed. In 2015, Greg Popovich made former WNBA player Becky Hammon the assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs. She then went on to coach the Spurs to the Summer League Championship.
Last week, Doris Burke was announced as a full-time NBA analyst for ESPN after 27 years of working in the industry. She’s the first woman to receive this title and deserves it after her years of hard work.
CSN recently made headlines by naming WNBA champion and Olympic gold medalist Kara Lawson an announcer for the Washington Wizards. At 36, Lawson is one of the youngest broadcasters in the NBA right now. She will join Sarah Kustok, announcer for the Brooklyn Nets, as one of the only female NBA sports analyst in the league.
Respect for women in sports media has come a long way, but I think we still need to keep pushing for more acceptance. It’s not fair to women to not be heard, just seen.
And don’t use the “you’ve never played the sport” excuse. How many employees in sports media are out there that have never played the sport they cover? Too many to list. So why should women be put into a separate category? Odds are we know just as much about the sport as men do.
I’m not covering a national sports league, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know the in’s and out’s of sports. I’ve had numerous encounters where men don’t appreciate my opinion or take it into consideration. It doesn’t make sense to me that they would rather listen to a guy talk about something they don’t know about compared to a girl who is talking about something she loves.
Overall, we’re going in the right direction. We just have to keep that fight going and find more acceptance in all leagues, not just the NBA.
I’m hopeful for what the future brings for women in sports media. In the meantime, I keep my fingers crossed more progress will be made before it’s time for me to try and make it in that field. And, when the time comes, I just have one, simple hope: Don’t just see me, hear me.