The Stigma of Women in Sports Journalism

Catherine Otero - Teen Aspect - June 30th, 2022
 

When I was eating dinner at Yardhouse not too long ago, the NBA playoffs were being broadcasted live on every single TV in that establishment. Customers were cheering as their favorite team scored three-pointers or booing when the opposition was beating them, however, the thing I caught myself booing at was the fact that there were zero female reporters displayed on that television. Instead, there was an entire roundtable of men discussing the moves made by these players and their opinions on them. I was completely baffled at the realization of how cliquey the sports broadcasting world is. One might as well have put a “No Girls Allowed” sign on the door of that newsroom. Yet, this environment has been this way since sports journalism and broadcasting first came to be. To emphasize the disparities between men and women in the sports journalism industry, it is important to highlight the fact that sports journalism began in earnest in the 1820s and 1830s, with specialized sports magazines covering primarily horse racing and boxing.(i) However, the first female NFL analyst on TV was Lesley Visser in 2009. Women were only allowed to join the “boys club” of sports journalism a little bit more than a decade ago, this speaks volumes about the ongoing underrepresentation of women in certain industries. Melanie Rau, a sports editor, discusses in her article for Vox that she was one of three women on the beat — two assistant editors and a reporter compared to 15 male reporters and four male assistant editors.(ii) This ratio of women to men in a sports journalism company is far too wide. Yet, this was back in 2019. Now that three years have passed, society has learned how to become more accepting of women in male-dominated industries! False. Today, 79.1% of sports reporters are men, while 20.9% are women.(iii)


Now, why is the sports journalism industry so tough for women to blend into?


The answer to that stems from as early as adolescence. As children are taught that the color blue is for boys and the color pink is for girls; Sports is for boys and makeup is for girls. This traditional form of parenting is immensely harmful as this new generation of children will grow up with that ideology still attached to them. It is evident that some may grow out of it, but a majority wholeheartedly stand by it. This ideology then blends into the workplace as sports are for boys and not for girls, which in turn creates a heavier misogynistic tone in environments where the number of women is not as prominent. According to a 2021 study done by the University of Michigan, the researchers polled more than 3,000 boys and girls aged 7 to 17 and their parents/guardians across the country and were surprised that roughly one-third of parents (32%) believed that boys are better at sports than girls. And parents of youth who have never played sports are more likely to believe that girls are not as competitive as boys and that sports are more important to boys than girls.(iv) It is statistically proven, that the beliefs of a parent can have a large impact on their children’s beliefs as well.


It is vital that we start teaching our children about the variety that the world of sports can truly have because the amount of disrespect female sports journalists are receiving is only growing. Joan Niesen, a former Sports Illustrated staff writer, says she has felt left out among her male coworkers over the course of her career.(v) Niesen was not invited to play golf nor to go out for drinks because she was not considered a peer or even an equal among her coworkers and bosses. Due to various female sports journalists not being taken seriously, it has become difficult for them to feel welcome in their jobs. Not only are women in this industry being left out, but they are also being hit on. Diana C. Nearhos, who covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Tampa Bay Times, had a problem in the locker rooms when she was covering minor league hockey. Nearhos says she has also experienced discrimination from other reporters or spectators. “I’ve definitely had instances, kind of everywhere I’ve been, where somebody either made comments about my being female or tried flirting in a place where I was like, ‘I’m just trying to work,’” she says. (vi)


It is time that this issue is addressed because the statistics of female sports journalists are not growing as women are becoming increasingly discouraged from pursuing careers such as these. Whether it is a fear of being sexualized or not taken seriously, what once seemed like a dream job is turning out to be a nightmare for many female sports journalists. We need to teach our children better and be more respectful to others, in order for the new generation of sports journalists to be more inclusive of women.


References:

1.) Moritz, B. P. (2014, December). Syracuse University surface at Syracuse University. Rooting for the story: Institutional sports journalism in the digital age . Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://surface.syr.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1171&context=ivmf

2.) Rau, M. (2019, December 28). Essay: Why are women sports journalists still on the sidelines? Vox Magazine. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://www.voxmagazine.com/magazine/female-sports-reporters-sidelined/article_e1a252f4-1cae-11ea-a4f4-5755f88350e7.html

3.) Zippia. (2022, April 18). Sports reporter demographics and statistics [2022]: Number of sports reporters in the US. Sports Reporter Demographics and Statistics [2022]: Number Of Sports Reporters In The US. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://www.zippia.com/sports-reporter-jobs/demographics/

4.) Bailey, L. (2021, July 27). Many parents still believe boys are better, more competitive at sports than girls. University of Michigan News. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://news.umich.edu/many-parents-still-believe-boys-are-better-more-competitive-at-sports-than-girls/

5.) Rau, M. (2019, December 28). Essay: Why are women sports journalists still on the sidelines? Vox Magazine. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://www.voxmagazine.com/magazine/female-sports-reporters-sidelined/article_e1a252f4-1cae-11ea-a4f4-5755f88350e7.html

6.) Rau, M. (2019, December 28). Essay: Why are women sports journalists still on the sidelines? Vox Magazine. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://www.voxmagazine.com/magazine/female-sports-reporters-sidelined/article_e1a252f4-1cae-11ea-a4f4-5755f88350e7.html

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