Note: I was originally going to make this one post about Prejudice in Sports, but for better or worse I have plenty to say here. So I’ve decided to make this a three post series. This is part two. Part one can be found here and part three right here.
Since the dawn of sports time, athletics has been a boy’s club. From the athletes themselves to the fans to the broadcasters to the journalists, men have dominated the scene. Unfortunately, this has opened the door to sexism in sports and plenty of people have walked through.
And while I have obviously not experienced any prejudice first hand, that doesn’t mean I haven’t witnessed it and it certainly doesn’t mean I shouldn’t raise awareness about it.
Sexism in Sports Against Sideline Reporters
I’ll start with the place women feature most prominently in the sports industry – as sideline reporters. To take it a step even further, I’ll start with the woman who is thought of most prominently when the words “sideline reporter” are mentioned – Erin Andrews.
Andrews is a really good sideline reporter. She has no problem asking any question and there’s a reason she has worked for ESPN and now Fox. Because she’s a really good sideline reporter.
But you could argue people think she’s the most famous sideline reporter because she’s gorgeous, which is a shame.
Go ahead and Google Erin Andrews. I’m sure most of you, like me, have before anyway. Then play the always-fun “Google Auto-fill” game. The three results I got are “Erin Andrews boyfriend,” “Erin Andrews video” and “Erin Andrews Twitter.” And the video isn’t a reel of her work on TV; it’s a search trying to find a peephole video of her getting changed in a hotel room.
I’m not saying Erin should cover up and never show skin again. The sports world is incredibly competitive, both on and off the field, and if her looks are her advantage in this day and age, she’s just capitalizing on societal beliefs. Can’t fault her there. What I am saying is Erin Andrews should be thought of as the best sideline reporter because of her reporting, not because of how hot she is. Next time around check out the skill, not the body.
Sexism in Sports Journalism
Unlike the sideline reporter position, women appear much less frequently as journalists in the sports world. Unfortunately, the prejudice is just as present, if not worse. This stems from that boy’s club mentality, and women not being able to do their job when walking into the locker room to get some post game interviews.
A prime example of this is covered perfectly by former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Kate Fegan. Fegan goes into detail about being the butt of jokes, being stonewalled from interviews and being the subject of threats while covering the 76ers. From Philadelphia myself, I regarded Fegan’s beat coverage as one of my best reads of the day. Knowing the abuse she took to get that information only raises my respect for her and any woman in the industry more.
I’ve recently learned how someone does one thing in life is how they do everything. So if these athletes are treating women journalists that way, how are they treating women everywhere? What example are these role models setting?
Stemming from the print journalism world, sexism also exists in broadcast journalism today, and I don’t mean just sideline reporters. Enter Doris Burke.
In my opinion, Doris Burke is a top-5 color analyst and sideline reporter in the NBA today. I’m always learning something in a game she covers, and her resume holds up to any man’s in the industry. However, I rarely hear that same sentiment in other people. In fact, I often hear people at the local bar telling me how annoying she is and how they prefer someone like Reggie Miller.
Am I saying Doris Burke doesn’t get the respect she deserves because she’s a woman? Maybe. Am I saying when I Google Doris Burke I should get something other than a story about the time Gregg Popovich almost made her cry? You’re damn right.
So Where Do We Go From Here?
Bottom line is it’s hard enough for women, or anyone for that matter, to break into the sports industry. There’s no excuse to make it harder for them with abuse in the locker room and the public eye. And I’m not talking about favoritism, either – that can be just as insulting as sexism in some cases.
Equality. What a concept.