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



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:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s