NGSC Sports

Football Fabulosa: To Be a woman talking sports

This weeks’s installment of Football Fabulosa comes courtesy of twitter again. It is a social media junkie’s paradise. Unfortunately, it is fraught with pitballs for women. Particularly those women who dare involve themselves in talking about sports. Now I’m aware that misogyny exists everywhere for women but I think it’s more prevalent for women in the sports industry. I don’t visit message boards anymore and utlize facebook marginally when discussing sports, plus I’m very selective with my use of facebook friending and I don’t have a public facebook site. I draw most of my experience from the use of twitter and commenting on internet articles. Both are filled with guys who feel free to post or tweet the vilest of things to women.

Some of it is fairly predictable commentary on your looks. I am fortunate in that my social media circle is relatively small and most of what I get there is positive. You get the occasional on hey you changed your hair and hooooh boy does it look terrible. Shrug. Thank you random internet dude that I don’t know for your thoughts. Perhaps I should shave it off. Oh boy I can imagine the comments then.

The reality is that sports media for women is still very much driven by looks and sex appeal. Jobs in the industry regularly go to women who are visually appealing to the male audience while women who strive to make it with real sports knowledge are passed over. Women like Doris Burke are rare but she is really good and understands the game of basketball like few do, men or women. Yet, a cursory twitter search of her name reveals exactly what I’m talking about. As Sports Illustrated Richard Deitsch warns us:

Twitter search Doris Burke right now and you’ll get a sense of what a lot of women in this biz face on social media.

— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) November 14, 2013

Do it and you get a sampling like the following:

Turned on KIA NBA Countdown and then heard that voice talking….Doris Burke. Immediately turned it off #FireDorisBurke
— Sean Neylon (@sneylon12) November 14, 2013

 

Let’s take a poll; is Doris Burke liked by anyone?
— John (@JohnShakurr) November 14, 2013

 

DORIS BURKE YOU DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING. SHUTUP.

— Evan Harper (@EvanJHarper7) November 14, 2013

 

Doris Burke seems like a cool dude, he knows the game pretty well. I should take it easy on him from now on.
— @KGTrashTalk (@KGTrashTalk) November 16, 2013

 

Rebecca Black’s hit single Friday > Listening to Doris Burke try to act like she knows anything about basketball

— B Marqs (@B_MarqyMarq22) November 19, 2013

 

Doris Burke is the last thing I want to see right when I wake up.
— Pete Swenson (@PeteYourMeat40) November 21, 2013

Those are the family friendly versions. For women, it’s about hair, looks, voice, etc. and women find credit for having real sports knowledge to be few and far between. More fewer and far between are women like Doris Burke and none have been given the opportunity to do play by playing calling on a large scale. In response to an inquiry, Richard Deitsch was kind to give me some information on the numbers.

According to her ESPN bio, Burke did call games and was the first woman to call a New York Knicks radio/television broadcast but she currently serves an an NBA and basketball analyst. There are women who do a great job in sideline reporting like Michelle TaFoya yet amazingly she has never even been considered for a booth job. There are very few analysts who are women who generally tend to occupy roles such as moderator. Jemele Hill has had a colorful tenure at ESPN and is currently co-host of Numbers Never Lie. Sarah Spain had a smart take on the situation for espnW. There really is no good reason why more women aren’t sports analysts.

While progress has been made in the NFL, and a growing recognition that the fan base is composed of approximately 45% women. Despite some major miscues (clear bags anyone?) the NFL has become cognizant of the power of the female fanbase and is looking to target those fans who aren’t the diehard and knowledgeable ones. Yet, it’s marketing approach was definitely geared toward the sexy side of sports. That’s changing as well yet the predominate image the league chooses in it’s female promotional is still geared toward sexy over smart.

I digress however from the inflammatory and vile things that get thrown at women who talk sports sometimes. Let’s take the example of Michelle Beadle, who used to work for ESPN and NBC Sports and who posted a slightly funny tweet about men that got her some serious ratchet behavior on twitter.

Men who type ‘smh,’ ‘lol,’ ‘rotfl,’ or any other series of letters in a text and/or tweet should not breed.

— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) November 21, 2013

What followed was a crash course in what to expect as a female sports personality on social media. This is just one example. 

Check this one out! Jeez, hon. Keep doing you. I’m sure loneliness is nothing you worry about @ItsNotFictionpic.twitter.com/VHnEeJ2JI5

— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) November 21, 2013

Then we got this little nugget: 

@MichelleDBeadle-Then I suggest woman stay out of sports. What better way to make youself look like a neanderthal woman than 2 be in sports.

— Snake Hayter (@jgfleet661) November 21, 2013

For the record, I like guys who use lol, OMG, and even emoticons (as long as they aren’t weird and creepy) but that’s no the point here. I understand that men in sports media get terrible things said to them on social networks but it never has that “you’re a girl and don’t belong here” tone to it. Better yet consider this little nugget. Still some of the insults thrown around in the male dominated sports world are gender based:

“You throw like a girl”

“He runs like a girl”

and the worst!

“He cried like a girl”

or how about this one?

‘That’s why girls don’t play the game”

Some of the worst insults  you can throw at men is to insinuate he is any shape, form or fashion somewhat like a girl. Somehow we are different, and I don’t know less smelly maybe? I have gotten used to the guys who question my knowledge and understanding of the game. I try to exercise patience with it all. I have found that if I engage them in discussion usually we foster a mutual respect even when we disagree. There are many cool dudes out there who are very supportive of women in the sports industry.

Yet, the typical insult I get too has been directed at my gender. Oh look, the girl said something I disagree with and hey look chick you are dumb. Or, as one enterprising fella tried to post in a comment thread on one of my articles ranking current NFL quarterbacks? Internet commenters are the worst by the way.

you dumb c**** this is why you shouldn’t do sports.

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