With college imminent, junior year has brought an important question from relatives: what do you want to major in? So I got to thinking. When TCU didn’t make the 2014 college football playoffs, I cried for at least an hour (I’m so sorry you had to witness that mom and dad), and I realized sports were not just a form of entertainment for me, rather a potential career. As long as I can remember, Saturdays have meant college football. I would wake up and turn on ESPN’s “College Gameday” only to be greeted by four men sitting at a desk. Whether or not sports journalism is my major, I can’t wait for the day when I turn on the tv and see a female reporter sitting at that desk. In an industry dominated by men, opportunities for women are scarce, and I feel the need for more of a female presence in sports.
No doubt have more women entered the field and even beat out male counterparts. Maria Taylor, Erin Andrews and Cari Champion are some of the women that I look up to. But women have to heavily defend their sports knowledge. Samantha Ponder has worked for ESPN as a reporter and is the current host of Sunday NFL Countdown. Ponder said on ESPN that she is commonly asked to this day if she even likes football and if her job got her a husband.
The Women’s Media Center cited that only 11 percent of the stories written on sports come from women. In addition to the limited opportunities, women face sexual harassment. Even if a reporter makes it into the few spots available for women, they are subject to “locker room talk,” misogyny and social media harassment. Getting the “scoop” and interviewing is part of the job, but what’s not right is having to dodge sexual advances and derogatory comments. This harassment stems from all ranks of the ladder, from players to general managers. A wink, pick up line, and stolen kiss on the cheek wouldn’t even phase most of the reporters—that’s just another day in the the office.
The #MeToo movement has made its way to the sports industry with more and more women coming forward about their experiences. As a result, company policies have been revisited. But as a society in the 21st century, I would like to think that sexism in the workplace has progressed from where it was a few decades ago, but the harsh truth is that there is still a lot of work to be done.
I clearly remember opening a notification on my phone and reading an article about Cam Newton. Newton, a prominent NFL quarterback, had belittled a female reporter in front of a room of about 30 media members, my heart sunk. Newton laughed to himself, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.” He then went on to repeat, with a broad, toothy grin on his face that, “It’s funny.”
The stereotype that women are not capable of talking about sports in depth, surrounds women as professionals in the field. Newton was caught voicing this common stereotype on a national platform. There is nothing “cute” about women analyzing routes. Perhaps this is why females are discouraged from pursuing jobs in the sports industry. Even when talking to my friends, there is the impression that I do not know as much as my male counterparts. My voice is often met with, “do you want attention from males,” or “I don’t think your stats are right.” The sexist notion that female sports journalists are less qualified than male counterparts is spent — it’s time to make room for more females in sports (maybe even me).