Being a female in the sports industry is harder than one would think. Whether you are a reporter, an analyst, a player or just a fan there are so many preconceived notions about women in sports that many still have today.
I do not consider myself an athlete by any stretch. I played three years of high school golf and rode horses for years but I always disliked gym class, I don’t run and my balance and coordination are questionable. That being said, I have always had a passion for sports. In the beginning it was as a fan, now as a writer and in the future as a career. However, it is frustrating that even in 2019 there is still a layer of misogyny in the sports industry that can’t be overlooked.
Women in the sports industry have to work harder to be taken seriously. There isn’t an automatic assumption that we know about sports when they are brought up, we have to prove that we have the knowledge base. We still get the surprised face when we dive into a sports conversation and actually know what we are saying and what is currently happening in the athletic world.
As a fan, the worst thing to deal with is the assumption that I am a fan of an athlete because that person is attractive. Nevermind that Jeff Gordon has 93 NASCAR premier series wins, making him the third most winning driver in NASCAR history, or that he has 4 championships, and the most wins at the Indianapolis speedway of any NASCAR driver. Don’t take into account that he founded a children’s hospital and is just generally a good person on and off the track during his 23 year career as a driver before his retirement. He is a male athlete so clearly my only reason for being a fan is because I am attracted to him, and just for the record I am not.
From a writing perspective, you have to deal with men in the locker room mentality. You really have to prove that you know what you are doing and how to handle yourself. Not only that but if you say you are a sports fan you sometimes get a sudden pop quiz like the person you are speaking with wants to prove you wrong. I admittedly don’t know every aspect of every sport that goes on at any given time.
I have always been drawn to the behind the scenes in the sports industry which has pushed me into becoming a sports reporter and has shaped what I want to do after graduation. I know sports in a different way than some people do, I don’t always focus on statistics or play by plays of games, but I can tell you about the press conference and the energy of the team off and on the field.
Fortunately it has improved greatly from the mentality of the past. Female coaches are coaching men’s professional sports, girls are becoming kickers and quarterbacks on their high school football teams and women are becoming more respected in the “locker rooms” as reporters, broadcasters and fans in general.
I think the point I am getting at is that I don’t have to be an athlete to write about or work in athletics. Just like political reporters don’t have to be president to write about the president or news reporters don’t have to be a cop to write about cops. If you do your research and work hard you are just as qualified to be at the table as anyone else there.