A College Woman's Experience in Sports Journalism

As a staff writer for my university’s daily newspaper, I’ve written articles about the school’s women’s ice hockey, lacrosse, and most recently the women’s basketball team. Getting to cover these teams has been and continues to be an absolute privilege. However, when I covered my first women’s basketball game, I was struck by something that I hadn't really thought much about.

The game I was covering was an exhibition game but it was still a big deal because it was one of the first chances to see the new players on the team. After the game, all of the members of the media gather around and wait for the players to come and talk to them. As I was waiting I looked around and realized that I was the only journalist, besides one photojournalist, who was a woman.

At first this only made me slightly uncomfortable. It was easy to see that this was a boy’s club with all of the members having been around for a long time. They all sort of stood in a circle and talked to each other with no one looking my way.

In some way I felt kind of empowered. It was like “Damn...I’m the only girl here, so I’m gonna make my mark.” I tried really hard to ask the players good questions and to not let the other journalists interrupt any of my questions.

Once I got back to my dorm and started thinking about my experience at the game I started to get upset. Why was it that I was the only female journalist there? Why were all the male journalists acting like I wasn't there? Is this how all women who cover sports feel?

I decided to do some research online and according to an article on workinsports.com “as recent as the 1970s, female reporters were not allowed to interview players before and after games. It wasn’t until 1978 when Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke sued the New York Yankees, who had banned her from the locker room to interview players during the 1977 World Series.” Ludtke won the lawsuit.

From the same article I also discovered that Meredith Veira was the first woman to ever host the Olympics sports coverage in 2014.  I found the article extremely informative, and then when I finished reading it I saw that the author was a man. By this point, I felt dismayed. This was a topic that specifically affects women, and workinsports.com felt that it was necessary to have a man write the story?!

           

 

The attitude that women can’t cover sports needs to change. Women can cover sports and they can do a good job. Newspapers, magazines, TV shows, and networks need to do a better job of hiring women. They also need to realize that women can do much more than be a talking head that mediates arguments between two men. Women have the knowledge and capacity to share their opinions and be part of the conversation. This change will not happen overnight, but once women start getting the opportunities and respect they deserve, change can take place in the sports journalism industry.

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