Turn on your TV to any professional sports game and you might not ever hear a female’s voice, and if you do, it’s probably from the sideline or somewhere off the court. Women dominate the sideline reporter field, but have hardly ever made it off and up.
Since 1987, only one female broadcaster has called a professional football game. One. Gayle Sierens only lasted an afternoon, calling a Chiefs-Seahawks contest, and declined every offer to broadcast games after. 20 years later, Beth Mowins broke through one of the thickest glass ceilings by calling a game on “Monday Night Football.” Instead of receiving support and admiration, Twitter blew up about how annoying her voice was and how she shouldn’t be in the booth again. With this negativity toward female color analysts or play-by-play announcers, we might not hear another during a professional football game.
Now, professional football isn’t the only place a woman hasn’t had a presence in the booth. Jessica Mendoza became the first female analyst to be in a nationally televised MLB postseason game in 2015. She also received an extremely negative reaction from social media after her broadcast.
Maybe that’s why we don’t see a lot of women in these roles. Who likes to be attacked after every word they say, even if it’s completely relevant and fact-based? I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to take on a role that is constantly torn down and berated.
But why is it that way? Why is almost every comment toward a female color analyst or play-by-play announcer negative?
Although, the sports broadcasting industry has been and might always be dominated by the male population, women have seen the doors into sports broadcasting open wider and wider in the past few decades. But there are still gaping holes in the opportunities for play-by-play and color commentating. The field is still dominated by men, leaving little chance for a woman to be in the booth.
The majority of female broadcasters can be found on the sidelines, reporting for various male and female sports. That’s not a knock at their talent or ability; it’s a stereotype that has been unconsciously embedded in the minds of sports fans. I mean sure, some sideline reporters really enjoy their job and have no desire to be in the booth, while others would give up an organ to do so.
With that being said, this issue has got me thinking. Are females included in broadcast for seemingly Title IX issues, or is it because networks value female employees’ talents? Should women stick to the sidelines or speak up in the booth?
I personally don’t see a reason a female can’t commentate on men’s sport if a male can commentate women’s sports. I know plenty of women who understand and can communicate the game of football or baseball better than a lot of men.
So what’s the hold up?
Probably the same old, “it’s a man’s world” excuse women have been getting since they started in the workplace. But with more and more women breaking the glass ceiling in every other industry, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a female’s voice through the TV on a Sunday afternoon as a color analyst or play-by-play announcer.
And one day, I hope to be one of them.
By Stormi Leonard, guest writer