Sports Commentary: It’s a woman’s world
Managing Sports Editor
As a woman pursuing sports journalism, I find myself looked at and treated much differently than the men around me, and while I feel uncomfortable at times, I try not to let it show.
Men look me up and down while I walk on the sidelines, simply trying to report on a game just like many male reporters around me. Men explaining to me what the “red zone” or “downfield” is during an interview, even though I’ve known these terms since I was eight. Men compliment my appearance before I even ask one question, limiting my ability to do my job to the way I look.
I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to pursue a career in sports in some way, and it was when I came to college that I decided to combine sports and journalism. I grew up idolizing women like Erin Andrews, Samantha Ponder, Lesley Visser and many more. As a young girl, it never occurred to me the many obstacles these women had to face to get to where they are, obstacles they tried to break down for women like me.
Visser is one of, if not the, most accomplished woman sports journalist. As a pioneering sports journalist, she accomplished many firsts for women, like being the first woman to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which was not until 2006 — the Pro Football Hall of Fame started in 1963, for a little perspective.
Visser said that “Men don’t have a genetic blueprint that allows them to understand or love sports,” and that’s something I remind myself often.
I’d be lying if I said it’s never intimidating walking into a press conference or press box and typically being the only girl, and if that’s not the case, then being one of maybe two women. But I continuously tell myself that I deserve to be here just as much as anyone else in the room, and that any small intimidation I feel now, the women before me felt it twice as much.
I’m not blind or naïve to the way things are in this industry. Andrews, a highly accomplished NFL sideline reporter, said so herself that as a woman in this field, you need to work ten times harder than the men around you.
Any small mistake will be used against you as a woman. Accidentally saying the wrong number in an interview or slipping up on positions could all be quickly fixed and laughed at for a man, but for me it would just add to the list of reasons why I don’t know what I’m talking about — the list including that I’m a woman … and that’s it.
However wrong this stigma is, it’s the way things are right now, and I don’t say that with defeat, I say that with hope.
Amazingly strong women broke into this industry and changed it for the better. I’m sure these women all knew that they weren’t changing every single man’s perspective, as much as they’d like to, but what they did do was show up every day. They showed up and did their job twice as well as any man could. They studied, learned the stats, learned the players and executed perfectly. Through their hard work, regardless of any outdated and frankly meat-headed view of some men, no one can deny their knowledge and skill and most importantly, their resilience.
“Make people take you seriously. Prepare like crazy and when you do that people realize you know your stuff,” Andrews said.
That’s how this industry is going to change. That’s how women will feel more and more comfortable in this field. Through women never backing down and always being ready. Through our many efforts and countless words. Because regardless of if players laugh at us, stare at us or doubt us, we’re going to keep showing up and keep kicking butt.