The most useless job in sports broadcasting

I spent about 15 years as a sports reporter. I’d like to say things are getting better for women in the field, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.

I was a sports reporter for about 15 years. I spent about ten years in television, where I worked for five TV stations – anchoring and reporting – and about five years as a print journalist. I mention this because I pay attention to media sports positions, having given a large chunk of my life to that world.

Back when I wormed my way into the sports world, there were few other women. In my daily interactions, I almost never dealt with others of my gender. But, as more women joined the ranks, I truly believed that eventually the field would become more welcoming.

Sadly, that hasn’t happened.

Some of you may be thinking, “Gosh, Anne. You’re wrong. There are women sportscasters all over the place.”

Well, technically there are more women working in sports media today, perhaps because there are so many more broadcast outlets when compared to the days when most towns had just three TV stations and cable and the Internet didn’t exist. A handful of women have even had the opportunity to share their expertise in the booth, doing play-by-play and color commentary. But the numbers are dismal when compared to all the sportscasting jobs out there.

Kate Scott has done play-by-play for the Pac-12 network.  In The Ringer article “Where Are All the Women in Play-by-Play Broadcasting?”, Scott called the lack of women in the field a numbers game.

Most sportscasting jobs, especially the ones in color and play-by-play, are still held by men.

“If there’s 10 guys applying for a job, and one woman, there’s more of a possibility that a guy’s going to get hired, just strictly because of the numbers of it,” Scott said. “Plus, many of the people in charge are men, who may be more likely to hire other men for the job. And on top of all of that, women need to have champions in order to succeed in these roles, or people willing to take the risk. Hiring a woman to call a sports broadcast still goes against the industry norms and often requires taking a chance on an unknown. But recently, albeit slowly, that’s starting to change.”

When women do get a shot at the booth, it’s most often to call games where the participants are women.

Most often, the women called on to work in the booth are covering sports with female athletes. I’m not complaining here, just stating a fact. The logic seems to be that since women play basketball, for example, giving them a shot in the hoops booth isn’t that great a stretch. But women who call baseball, football, or ice hockey – especially at the male professional level – remain a rarity.

And when networks do decide to give women a chance, a closer look reveals they don’t have much faith in the viewing public’s willingness to listen. Remember the Thursday Night Football game when Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer – two women who’ve been in the field for decades – became the first female team to call an NFL game? Nice! I thought! It’s about time. But then I discovered that that broadcast was an alternative feed, one that viewers had to select instead of the “normal” booth team that featured Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. That clearly showed that the folks in charge aren’t quite sure the viewing public can handle women in the booth.

Sideline reporters like Erin Andrews are often asked to be nothing more than a pretty face.

That leads us to the most useless job in sportscasting, one which, perhaps not surprisingly, is often held by women: sideline reporting. There is absolutely no reason, in my opinion, for this job to even exist. Sideline reporters rarely talk about anything but injuries. It would make more sense to have a medical professional manning the sidelines than a sports reporter. “Now let’s go down to Nurse Becky on the field!” And I’ve watched entire games where the guys in the booth only go to the sideline reporter a couple of times. So, what’s the point? I sense the position was created just so the networks can brag about how inclusive they are. “Look! Wow! We’re letting a woman step onto the field. Aren’t we great!”

Here’s the thing. Sports broadcasting is not rocket science. So, can we move along here? Open those doors and give some women a chance.

Really, what would it hurt?

Wild Horses on the Salt Cover 2

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb

Yes, boys and girls are different

Ten years ago, I found myself escorting a 15-year-old into my home. I hadn’t really thought about it much when I agreed to become a foster mom. All I knew was this small boy – who’d previously been my student – found himself alone. The spur-of-the-moment decision set me on the path to foster mom school – yes, there is such a thing – where one learns the proper ways to nurture children who’ve suffered in their lives.

As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy. Teenagers in the foster care system are hard to place, because, well, they’re teenagers. Not the most pleasant time to be a parent. Still, we persevered.

Later, two more boys who’d spent time in the foster care system called me Mom.

While the boys are younger here, they’re not often in the same place at the same time.

Today, my three boys are all in their twenties working toward their goals. They are positive, contributing members to society, working at their chosen professions. Which is a really big deal. The reason? Twenty percent of kids who age out of foster care become homeless immediately. Another 20 percent are homeless within four years. Twenty-five percent end up in prison within two years. Only 2.5 percent graduate from a four-year college, so when my youngest boy – now a junior at Arizona State University – graduates, he will be one of the very few who’s earned a degree.

As you can imagine, I’m very proud of my boys and I’m excited to see what they become.

I must mention here what a good sport my long-time partner has been, since Ryan was thrust into parenthood as abruptly as I was. He’s wonderful with the boys, all of whom needed a dad, maybe more than they needed a mom.

That said, recently, we had a change in the family dynamic. A young lady has come to stay. Also a former student, Makayla is a sophomore at ASU. She’s bubbly and determined and a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.

So now Ryan has a girl, which is just a wee bit different.

“How does my hair look?” Makayla positioned herself in the living room, a tight bun situated atop her head.

Makayla is teaching Ryan that girls are different than boys.

“It looks nice.” I smiled.

Then she turned to Ryan.

“It’s OK,” he said.

I cringed. Makayla frowned and walked out of the room.

“What’d I say?” Ryan looked bemused.

“Not the right thing.”

Ryan spread his hands.

“Honey, she’s a girl. Just say she looks nice.”

“Of course, she looks nice.”

“Then say so.”

Poor guy. I almost laugh when he listens to Makayla talk about boys and clothes and hairstyles. He just looks so damned lost. “It’ll be OK, honey. You’ll catch on.”

The next evening, Ry and I were in the kitchen preparing dinner. Makayla walked in with a big bow in her hair.

Ry looked up. “I like the bow,” he said. “You look nice.”

Makayla graced him with a radiant smile.

Who knew my sweetie pie was such a quick learner?

Wild Horses on the Salt Cover 2

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND
AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb

The death of customer service

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Yep! It’s gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Now listen, children, as we discuss a strange phenomenon that existed many years ago. It’s not exactly extinct, but it’s so rare today, most people haven’t ever experienced it, save for those of us who are…um…old.

I’m talking about “customer service” which, by definition, is the support a company offers their customers. Support both before, during, and after one purchases a product, which makes being a customer, well, nice.

Once upon a time, kind workers hurried to assist shoppers with their acquisitions and if you called on the phone an actual person – who was generally very sweet – would work hard to help a buyer overcome any problems or concerns.

But somewhere along the way, customer service went the way of the dinosaurs.

“Excuse me sir,” I said holding out a bill that I’d received from AT&T. “I was accidentally charged for two cellphones instead of one, so my bill is double what it should be.” I smiled sweetly.

A long time later, while I watched the gentleman poke his tablet, he threw up his arms. “I can’t help you.”

I then requested to see the manager.

“I’m very busy right now,” the young woman said in a huff. “I will get to your problem tonight after five. I’ll call you.”

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Think about it. When was the last time you felt like a company cared about your satisfaction?

Though my first thought was to mention that there seemed to be no unattended customers in the store, I acquiesced. That evening, I waited. No call. So, I returned the next day and the whole scenario replayed itself. I felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. I smiled. “You didn’t call me,” I said in my most honeyed voice.

“Yes, well…” she sputtered. “I’ll get to it later.”

I am loath to admit that the not-so-nice version of me began leaking out. “I think you should sit down and we can take care of it now.”

She stared around the room, as if looking for cover. Then, to my surprise, she sat. Still, the outcome was not what I expected. After fussing with her tablet, she called over the first guy I’d dealt with and insisted he would fix the problem. Then she promptly disappeared. I’m not sure what she thought had changed from his inability to help me the day before, still I found myself facing him again.

Finally, with my day slipping by, he stared at me. “You should call AT&T’s customer service line.”

download-1“I don’t want to wait on hold. Couldn’t you call for me?” I folded my hands and batted my eyes

He refused.

Now, I’m not the type to get loud or angry in public. After all, I was a sports official for 40 years and, in that capacity, I wasn’t allowed to lose my cool. Still, when I stood and followed him to a payment kiosk, he barked. “You stay six feet away from me!”

I squinted. I was doing my social-distancing due diligence. Did he think I – a little, 65-year-old woman – might kick his ass. (Yes, it occurred to me, but I promise you I did nothing untoward.)

Soon thereafter, my sweetie pie and I were searching the isles at Home Depot. He asked one of the employees for help and the man shouted, “I’m having a bad day!”  After which, he threw his clipboard and stalked away, leaving us to fend for ourselves. Then, one of our favorite restaurants, which we have patronized for years, gave us poorly done take-out and refused to replace it. And I can’t count the hours I spent on hold with Amazon and Social Security and Medicare and Cox Cable, often not connecting with a single human being and getting little or no satisfaction in regard to the issues I called about. “I’m sorry. I can’t help you. I’ll connect you with someone who can.” Then click, you’re disconnected after waiting on hold for half an hour and you’re forced to begin the whole dreary process again. 

Here’s the thing. All of this pretty much happened in the same couple of weeks.

So, the question is, why are we, the customers, being treated so badly? Companies are shunting their customer service responsibilities as they hide behind technology. “Please listen to this recording as our options have changed.” “Please go to our website.” “We are experiencing very long wait times, so call back later.”

Eieee!!!

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Imagine the joy if you got to speak with a real person who actually solved your problem in a reasonable amount of time.

What can we do? Not much probably, though it would be nice to see a website that listed corporations according to their customer-service amenities. Just think, wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to choose companies with which to do business according to their efforts on our behalf? Imagine the joy if a real person answered our call promptly, sincerely listened to our complaint, and kindly rectified the issue in a reasonable amount of time.

Bliss!

Sadly, that probably isn’t much more feasible than bringing the dinosaurs back to life.

Still, a girl can dream.

Wild Horses on the Salt Cover 2

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb

Try to Remember

“Try to remember the kind of September when life was slow and oh so mellow!”

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Don’t panic. It’s normal to forget things sometimes.

While I don’t remember a time like that, it sounds nice, doesn’t it? Though I enjoy that lovely old song from The Fantasticks, slow and mellow have eluded me most of my life. But it’s the remembering part I find most problematic. Sometimes, I leave a room with deliberation, walk into another, and promptly forget what I wanted to do.

I bet you do to.

But, don’t worry. You’re not losing your mind. It’s called the doorway effect. According to a story by the BBC, “The Doorway Effect occurs when our attention moves between levels, and it reflects the reliance of our memories – even memories for what we were about to do – on the environment we’re in.” The idea is that moving through a doorway to another room can create a mental block that resets in the next room and convinces us to move onto a new chapter. So, no worries there.

Still, as we mature, many of us are concerned about forgetfulness. But should we consider memory lapses a natural part of aging? Studies say no, so it appears many of us will grow old without significant memory loss. However, we should be concerned if forgetfulness is severe and it persistently affects everyday function.

It’s important to understand what can cause memory loss and what we can do to prevent it. Note that certain medications can be problematic, especially drugs that treat anxiety and pain. Depression, thyroid issues, and deficiencies of vitamin B12 can also cause memory loss, as can strokes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

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Keep memory loss at bay by adding healthy foods like nuts and beans and fruits and vegetables your diet.

Simple life-style changes can help keep our memories strong. Exercise regularly. And no big-time sweating is required. Just go for a walk every day. Insert some cognitive activities into your day, like reading and playing games, dancing and music. Consider a diet low in saturated fats and add brain-healthy foods like nuts, berries, beans, fish, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and, my personal favorite, wine, but of course in moderation. Be social. Make new friends. A good way to do that is to volunteer or join groups of people with whom you share an interest. And travel, if you can. New experiences keep our brains active.

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Making new friends can keep your brain resilient.

The point is, we shouldn’t overly worry about that word we forgot how to spell, the appointment that slipped our mind, or the person’s name we can’t recall, because that’s just a normal part of living. And remember, most of us do have the power to keep our noggins healthy, with just a few changes.

So, take control, my friends.

Now, where did I leave my keys?

Wild Horses on the Salt Cover 2

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb