Women in Sports Journalism


The world of sports has also been dominated by men; from athletes to coaches to trainers to upper management to reporters. Like most industries, women began to barge into sports reporting. Women had a tough time of it from the beginning. Women sports reports started to appear in locker rooms and received a lot of criticism for it. Criticisms such as women shouldn’t be in that setting, men are half naked in towels and women shouldn’t be around then. Many players just wouldn’t take and answer questions coming from women reporters and even locked them out of clubhouses until Steve Garvey began helping out a female reporter by the name of Claire Smith. This of course was after Claire Smith was berated by the Padres players with cat calls while trying to do her job. Smith went to the San Diego Padres ownership and asked for help to do her job and the response she got was “This is Dick Williams’ (the manager of the Padres at the time) clubhouse.” Claire Smith with the help Steve Garvey broke barriers all around the sports journalism field. Claire Smith was an African American female while typically baseball beat writers are often white males. Smith chattered these standards and allowed a new wave of reporters of females and colored reporters alike to begin beat writing.

Criticism of female spots journalists continued in all sports for some time. In 1989 the New England Patriots had multiple players sexually harassing a female reporter by the name of Lisa Olson, who was reporting for the Boston Herald. There were three players who were involved in the incident who were fined a combined total of $22,750. Now that may seem like an insignificant amount for the humiliation and disgrace they had done to Olson, however in those days that was a decent amount of money. The Patriots organization was fined $25,000 with an extra $25,000 going towards instructional media for league personnel on how to deal with media. I think those sanctions were a joke. I believe the players could have been suspended at the very least and the organization fined more and maybe sent the entire organization to a class or something along those lines.

Sports journalism has come a long way but there is still a lot more ground to be made up. Female reporters definitely have more respect in the locker room and are allowed to do their jobs without problem, however problems still occur. For example, within the past few years a prominent ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was getting changed in her hotel room when a co-worker peeped on her and sent out pictures to the internet. The case was recently settled and Andrews was awarded millions of dollars in damages to her reputation and humiliation. She also left ESPN soon after this and now works for Fox Sports. While incidents like these still happen, for the most part players and team staff don’t have issues with reporters and actually seem to get along. Women still get criticized in sports, reporters and commentators alike have gotten heat from those on social media sending uncomforting messages to them. In a recent article, sports journalists Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro asked men to read aloud the misogynistic messages they receive online, and it is uncomfortable to say the least. Sports journalism is expanding in more roles for women however most women are sideline reporters as few actually get to sit behind the desk not only as broadcasters but for shows as well. There are very few female play-by-play commentators in sports and even fewer females that sit behind a desk on sport shows. SportsCenter has a few female anchors who have are partnered with a male anchor. Very rarely if ever are there two women anchors paired together during a segment. Women have a long way to go still sports journalism, however they have made great progress. I would imagine that within the next 10 to 20 years we see more women as anchors, play-by-play commentators and even hosting their own sports shows. The future is bright, we just have to push the envelope.


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