Why There is a Lack of Women in Sports Media

By: Lexie Kennedy, kennedyal@mnstate.edu

You turn on the TV, switch to ESPN and immediately see a female giving you information about your favorite football team. You say out loud to your family, “Man, she should be in the kitchen.” At first, you think it’s funny, but then your daughter looks at you with a confused face. Did you really just downgrade a woman in front of your daughter?

This instance has happened in my life. I know it has in others’, as well.

Women in sports media—why is it such a big deal? Just because we aren’t allowed to suit up and tackle doesn’t mean we don’t know anything about the game of football, or basketball, or any other sport. According to workinsports.com, a 2012 study showed that 90 percent of sports editors are male.

We are judged if we leave our hair natural and not perfectly straight, if a dress doesn’t show enough skin, if my dress shows too much skin, if my smile is crooked—it’s all “looks, looks, looks.” When can we get to the point where we judge a female because of her work quality and not because of the way she appears?

If you think this only happens to people on major television networks, you are wrong. Recently, a female anchor from WDAY received an email asking where her clothes were, because she hadn’t been wearing sleeves. Someone took time out of their day to harass another person, when they should’ve been listening to what’s going on in the news and focusing on what they should be doing to better themselves as a person.

This is just a small instance, too—imagine being on ESPN, Fox Sports North …those emails have to be a lot more brutal.

“Not Just Sports,” a male podcast, did a video reading mean tweets to two female reporters. I showed this video to my classmates and to a lot of people in my life. I didn’t give much background, and I let them watch for themselves. They marveled over how impactful the video was.

You had men who had never met these women read filthy, disgraceful, anonymous tweets to their faces. Some couldn’t even get the words out. When my friends and classmates were done watching, we talked about how it actually hurt our hearts.

Although we are far away from equality in the sports world, strides are being made every day. In the past few years, we have had the first female Major League Baseball game announcer, Jessica Mendoza. Becky Hammon was the first ever female to be named to an NBA coach roster.

With 90 percent of executive positions in the sports world being held by white males, according to Loyola Phoenix, this year’s College Football Playoff championship game had five women in executive positions. Strides are being made, but it’s up to us as a society to make women in sports the norm.

What can you do to help fix this issue?

Support the women in your lives. Support your nieces, your daughters. Continue to raise strong, independent women and never tear their dreams down. Colleges and universities can and should promote sports journalism to young women. There is power in numbers, and women in sports media deserve all the power they can get. When there are more women in this industry, the little comments won’t matter and there will be equality.

Next time you’re on the couch, scrolling through the channels, and you feel the urge to make a smart remark, think about those women in your life. Would you say it to their faces? Probably not, so don’t say it at all.

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