There is no question that sports journalism is a field dominated by men. Of course I would choose the career path that would be the hardest for me to be successful in as a woman. But I think maybe that’s why I’m going down this road. I want to help change this imbalance.
I went to a lecture a while back about women in sports journalism and was both shocked and excited to learn how far we have to go to get more women active in the sports world. One of the speakers talked about his time spent in the press box. He described looking down the rows and seeing no women and noticing there was something wrong in that.
A few weeks later I attended another lecture given by a woman who had been a sports broadcaster for ESPN and now writes for USA Today. I greatly admired her as she spoke about the importance of equal opportunity for both men and women and how women should not be pushed aside simply because they have never played the sport.
At both lectures, it was said that more women need to be accepted into the sports world because they are able to offer new viewpoints and insights. The man from the first lecture talked about one of his favorite examples of this.
A few years ago, the Alabama football team was being hosted by Penn State. The Lions fans decided to have a “white out” for this big game. While most photographers there were taking pictures of the action on the field, one woman for the Tuscaloosa News turned around and captured a brilliant image. She had seen what others had not: a lone Crimson Tide fan in his red amongst the sea of white.
I agree with the man who told this story, because women do think a little differently than men. I’m not saying their way of thinking is always better, but it does vary from men.
Then, just this week I read a very interesting article called, “Debating role of women in sports media.”
First of all, I was kind of shocked at the title. Is there really a “debate” that needs to be had? I mean, yes it needs to be talked about and yes it needs to be changed, but why is there arguing over what aspects of sports journalism women can participate in?
But I went on to read the article (which was really just an interview with six women active in the sports journalism field) and found it fascinating. I was saddened to learn that there is still real sexism out there, even in the professional world. The women described how they were treated differently at times because of their sex, specifically by coaches and players.
Instead of complaining or accepting defeat, these women said how they used those instances to help build their emotional backbone and became stronger people.
They of course brought up the double standard held on women about their looks. Tweets are apparently the way they hear it the most, whether it be about the outfits they were, or the weight they’ve gained. Of course the men on TV are never really talked about this way (though I do express my dislike of some men’s tie and shirt combinations every once in a while). Women are simply held to a higher standard when it comes to looks.
But that is not the only thing that they are constantly criticized for. One woman in the article talked about a time when she messed up while reporting from the sideline. Immediately the talk began about how she shouldn’t be reporting because she doesn’t know the game since she is a female.
This is perhaps what bothers me the most. I could put up with the harsh words but when you insult my intelligence and suggest I don’t know what I’m talking about, that’s when we have a problem. My gender has nothing to do with my knowledge of the game. And if the argument is given that a lot of the women reporting have never played the sport, neither have many of the men who get to call the game from the box.
All in all, sports journalists should be given jobs based on their knowledge and skills. It shouldn’t matter about gender, appearance, race, or any other physical factor. I hope one day that this will be applied.