This MLA paper explores the struggles women face in the sportscasting industry. The author argues the industry is set up in a way to ensure women fail to pursue a career in sports media. This opinion essay was written at the high school level as a sample for the Ultius blog.
The struggles of women in sports media
For a very long time, we have been used to seeing male sportscasters and whether we realize it or not many women have been fighting very hard to earn a place in what has always been considered to be a dominantly male profession. Too many jobs have this very chauvinistic attitude in the professional world has no sense of equality the problem is a lot of times women are better at the job. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the long battle that women have faced and continue to face in the industry of sports media.
Gender roles in sports broadcasting
Historically, sports broadcasting has been a male only area stereotypically reinforced by gender roles. The school of thought for years proposes since women do not play the majority of televised sports, they have no place in sports broadcasting. The feminist revolution has yet to do anything to help women who are trying to develop a career in the sports broadcasting industry. It has helped some such as Leslie Vassar and Michelle Tafoya even so, Michelle only stays on the sidelines and nowhere near the studio (Dietsch).
There are all kinds of jobs that take place in the broadcasting industry such as producing, makeup artist, and many other behind-the-scenes. One of the most successful women in the industry is a producer and vice president overseeing the new SEC network that just launched on ESPN (Dietsch). That is quite an accomplishment considering the fact that women are so overlooked in the industry.
The threats of bullying and abuse
As we all know like any other task broadcasting especially for women comes with its own set of issues particularly that of bullying and a lot of other forms of abuse. The abuse women face is far worse than teammate hazing in professional sports. Sportswriters have social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram even and unfortunately leaves them open to a lot of rude and hateful comments (Spain). Some of these comments go so far as to say harsh things about their looks but some can be downright mean and hurtful.
There are some writers that have even experienced death threats to the point that they have had to be escorted home at the end of their shifts by security (Dietsch). Just some of the comments of these writers have had to endure in their mailboxes is downright disgraceful. One particular writer was only twenty-four years old when she received her first derogatory letter. She referred to it as her “Dear b***h” (Barker). The comments also go so far as to tell her to get back in the kitchen along with being called various derogatory words. The hate mail went on to say that the only reason that this young lady had taken a job to be a sports writer was so that she could see men naked (Barker).
It is bad enough the women had to fight their way just to get to the places that they are within the sportscasting careers but there is no protection for them either. There needs to be great change within the industry to make it so that women can actually be in the profession and not have to fear for their own safety or have to worry about deliveries on their doorstep or in their mailbox. Everyone wants to complain about inequality but what is being done about it?
The female sportscasters that are currently in television have to constantly worry about their looks and whether or not they are attractive enough. There’s constant worry about being replaced for a younger woman and it does not matter if they are better than them or not. It is still an uphill battle because all opportunities may finally be broadening there are still the stereotypes that are faced from the moment a woman walks in the door.
For instance, a reporter that had been reporting for quite some time transferred to a Chicago office and received a big story because of her experience. It was automatically assumed that she had slept with someone to get that story. Rather than entertain the foolish notion she simply put her nose to the grindstone so to speak and worked as hard as she could to prove that she got the story because of her work (Kaminski).
Sportscasting is so vicious for females that a reporter cannot even walk into an office without automatically being judged if they happen to get the best story in the building and assumption is automatically made that she must be doing something to get special favors or attentions. It is bad enough to have to face it in the real world one would think that it would not transfer to the office as well because it should be a very supportive place where everyone works together to help each other. The positive social effects of team sports should be reflected in this profession.
Sportscasting in prime time
Twenty years ago, a study was conducted to see how much of the sports programming that was televised with male and how much was female. This particular study found that 96% of all sports programming was predominantly male even when females play the sport as well such as basketball and any other sports were both genders play at the same time. Television time was given more to male teams sending the message that sports is predominantly for and played by men. Looking at SportsCenter as well it was noticed that the sports ticker was also devoted to men’s sports as well there were not any scores or stories for women sports at all (Cooky, Messner, Huxtrim, and Dyad).
This has improved some such as during March Madness but only on select channels but not on the major networks. It is truly a shame because female athletes put as much time and effort into their craft and the sports that they play just as much as the men do. It’s a disservice not only to the programs but also to the coaches and the universities that sponsor them. The more attention that a university can gain, the better chance that it has of recruiting students and potential athletes for its sports programs.
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Hope for future female sportscasters
It seems an improvement is making its way into the sportscasting profession, which is the best course of action seeing as there are many women who are going to college and getting the knowledge that it takes to better themselves. Many women are becoming producers and even going the extra mile to put their best foot forward in a profession that does not make it easy for them. They suffer all kinds of abuse not only from fans but also internally because unfortunately they still have to deal with the fact that it is still an all-boys club.
There are some fine women that have broken the barrier and managed to get through because they were given a chance to prove that they were able to do the job. There are some men in the profession who realize that women can do the job just as well as they can, and it does not mean that they are a threat to them. Women are able to find the door of radio and are able to do podcasts which is opened up a very interesting and yet very new door. There are some who prefer this type of work because of the freedom that it gives them to be able to express themselves in any way they choose without having to worry about how they look. Their overall personality is allowed to come out more because they have the freedom of radio show without having to be in front of a camera and who cares what some troll thinks about what they say. If the person does not like what is said on the podcast they can simply turn off and no one has to be abused or offended.
Women in sports media is an area that needs to be broadened. Not enough men are going to college for journalism and those who do are just not putting in the time and effort for sportscasting. If we take a look at all of the people who are doing the sportscasting in analyzing now for sports particularly American football will find that a majority of those people were former players.
This is a women’s rights issue rooted in discrimination and misogyny. Women dedicate themselves totally to their jobs and are willing to go through whatever they have to go through to be able to prove how deserving they are to walk in that building and be in front of that camera or behind the camera. What is more important: going after one’s dream in spite of the obstacles that are placed all along the pathway? Or, simply accepting things as they were meant to be and letting them be an excuse for why a dream will be left unfulfilled never to come true?
Barker, Barbara. “Women in sports media continue to endure vicious trolls.” 30 April 2016. NewsDay. Web. 27 June 2016. Retrieved from http://www.newsday.com/sports/columnists/barbara-barker/women-in-sports-media-continue-to-endure-vicious-trolls-1.11745905
Cooky, Cheryl, Messner, Michael, Hextrum, Robin and Nyad, Diana. “GENDER IN Barker, Barbara. “Women in sports media continue to endure vicious trolls.” 30 April 2016. NewsDay. Web. 27 June 2016. Retrieved from http://www.newsday.com/sports/columnists/barbara-barker/women-in-sports-media-continue-to-endure-vicious-trolls-1.11745905TELEVISED SPORTS NEWS AND HIGHLIGHTS SHOWS, 1989‐2009.” 4 June 2010. Women’s Sports Foundation. Web. 27 June 2016. Retrieved from https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/home/research/articles-and-reports/media-issue/women-play-sports-but-not-on-tv
Dietsch, Richard. “Debating Role of Women in Sports Media.” 24 November 2013. Sports Illustrated. Web. 27 June 2016. Retrieved from http://www.si.com/nfl/2013/11/24/media-circus-women-sports-media-espn-nfl-network
Kaminski, Kaitlyn. “Women in sports media gain ground, but it’s an uphill climb.” 11 September 2014. Seattle Times . Web. 27 June 2016. Retrieved from http://blogs.seattletimes.com/take2/2014/09/11/women-in-sports-media-gain-ground-but-its-an-uphill-climb/
Morrison, Sara. “Media is ‘failing women’ — sports journalism particularly so.” 19 February 2014. Poynter. Web. 27 June 2016. Retrieved from http://www.poynter.org/2014/media-is-failing-women-sports-journalism-particularly-so/240240/
Ryan, Shannon. “For women in sports journalism, social media ‘can be an ugly place’.” 2 October 2015. Chicago Tribune. Newspaper Article. 27 June 2016. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-women-sports-social-media-spt-1002-20151001-story.html
Spain, Sarah. “Grace under fire: Women in media shouldn’t have to ‘ignore’ abuse.” 28 April 2016. ESPNW. Web. 27 June 2016. Retrieved from http://espn.go.com/espnw/voices/article/15412369/women-sports-media-ignore-abuse