Wearing Pink on Game Day Doesn’t Mean We’re Clueless

This article is in collaboration with: Lauren Campbell, Sarah Griffin, Marina Molnar, Brianna Pirre and Erin Walsh.

All opinions are my own, with responses from the participants listed above.

A couple of weeks ago an acquaintance asked me if I have ever watched basketball before. I was *deeply* offended and I did not know why at first. I thought to myself of course I’ve seen basketball, am I an alien to you?? I had a good laugh before answering, yes, I have. In all fairness, it is easy (but not accurate), to assume that a girl in a power wheelchair had never seen a game of basketball in their lifetime. What my acquaintance does not know is, 75% of my High School career consisted of me on the sidelines of multiple sports. In the fall you could find me on the sidelines of a football game (as the Assistant Director of Football Operations) and in the winter you could find me furiously live-tweeting during a basketball game (as the Social Media Director for Women’s Varsity Basketball). Those experiences have shaped my life in many ways. 

Not too long ago I reached out to some amazing women that I have looked up to over the years. I made up a quick questionnaire to ask them about their experiences in the field of professional sports coverage as a woman. I was curious about a couple of things. Sometimes I do not realize that in a small way I am doing work that will open up doors for other women like me. I wondered if these amazing women had ever thought about their impact. Marina Molnar wrote: “Not until recently more and more people have started to reach out to me. Means the world to me that people look up to me.” In my opinion it is hard to gage whether or not you are making a difference, but there is something rewarding about being recognized for your work. I am so glad Marina is getting the recognition she deserves. Molnar wrote that in 10 years she would love to “see more women broadcasting games. Whenever AJ Mleczko is calling an NHL game I like to tune in. So more broadcasters, more opportunities in women all throughout sports”. Brianna Pirre has a similar response: “I’d love to see more women in the booth and on the sidelines, reporting and coaching! I think we’re making some great strides to get there.” I think those are strong points to bring up. I would love to watch more games be called by women. We are making great strides to hire coaches that are women but there is definitely room for more. 

Sarah Griffin had a response that is central to this article. In response to if she has experienced any negative interpersonal interactions at work she wrote: “Sometimes I'll get people who want to test my knowledge, or assume I don't know as much as, I think because I'm a girl, but when you know what you're talking about, it's easy to shut those people up. As a matter of fact, it's pretty satisfying.” I smiled when I read this because it is so very true.  Collectively, I found out that being in a physical work environment in the world of sports is very welcoming and supportive toward women. However, a common trend was that women tend to be targeted online specifically because they are women. What online trolls do not understand is that women are tough and online hate comments do not hold much weight. 

Originally this piece was going to be about how women are treated in the field, especially via online trolls, however, I realized that there was something more important to focus on. My whole life I have looked everywhere for representation in mainstream media and have never found it. I am a cambodian woman, who also happens to be in a power wheelchair. What I did not see on TV, especially within sports, I found online, specifically on Twitter, my favorite social media platform. There are so many awesome women in the sports universe that I have found on Twitter. Although no platform is safe from toxicity ,Twitter has changed the way that I enjoy life.

Lastly, I asked these amazing women to give any advice to women entering or thinking of entering the field. I am going to include their raw responses as I think they are so important, in general just as much in regards to the sports world. Erin Walsh wrote: “Keep an open mind, work harder than you ever have before, don't take hate from anybody and be confident in your work. Don't be afraid to voice your opinions and don't be afraid to be a go-getter.” Similarly, Marina wrote: “Keep on hanging on. It took a few years before I was even noticed. Just keep on blogging, keep on podcasting, keep on studying, don't let a hiccup discourage you from your goal. Don't let anyone tell you no. Go out and do it and don't give up.” Sarah wrote: “Put yourself out there! Network with people, talk to other women in the industry. We all are trying to make it, and it helps to have others who can relate to the struggle. Don't worry about what other people think, either. Make a blog, make a youtube channel, do whatever it is you're thinking about doing.” Lauren Campbell had a similar response writing: “Do not give up. Don’t listen to outside noise. Connect with anyone you can and network with them. Blog like crazy if you want to write and shamelessly self promote yourself. I’ve never met someone in this business who didn’t want to offer help or advice.” Finally, Brianna wrote: "Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t just because you have a pair of breasts. Work hard, be proud of the content you put out there and the rest will follow.” 

In my perfect world, I think the field of sports can transcend any type of barrier that society has placed upon us. I was not sure where this article would take me but I would hope that we can all come to the same conclusion. Representation and inclusion matters, as does respect. It is important to not put limitations on ourselves because of certain societal norms. Also, women are freaking awesome. 

A special thanks to Lauren, Sarah, Marina, Brianna and Erin for making this piece possible. The community is so lucky to have you. 

Where you can find these amazing ladies:

Lauren Campbell: Twitter and instagram: @lalalalaurrrren and find her writing here: https://nesn.com/lauren-campbell/

Sarah Griffin: Twitter and Instagram: @skg_18, blog link: https://s3griffin.wixsite.com/sarahgriffin

Marina Molnar: Twitter: @mkmolnar and Her Podcast: Marina's Morning Skate

Brianna Pirre: Twitter: @bsp_13 and @patriotsfgsn & Instagram: @bsp__13 & @patriotsfgsn

Erin Walsh: Twitter: @ewalsh90

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