Respect and Recognition for Female Sports Reporters
ESPN Sports Broadcaster and Columnist Sarah Spain has helped in the movement to stop the harassment of women in the sports industry. Photo by Stephen J. Serio.

The sports industry seems to be a tricky road to navigate. From any entrepreneurial sports website to the athletes within it, there are lots of problems. However, one of the biggest issues that continue to persist is the lack of respect and recognition for female sports reporters.

This is easily recognizable by the simple action of typing in “Female Sports Reporters” into any search engine. If you search through Google, you will find a few different types of articles.

One of the first articles that will appear is one by Men’s Journal about “The Best Female Sports Reporters”. This is great that it’s one of the top searches. However, it’s written by a magazine aimed at men and is written by the Men’s Fitness Editors.

There are a few other articles that will appear at the top that count down the best ten or 15 female sports reporters. There is even one by Bleacher Report about the “Twelve Women Who Pioneered the Era of Female Sports Broadcasters”. But it doesn’t take long before the next type of article arises.

They no longer praise the work that these women have put into sports, but rather subjectify them to their appearances. There seem to be countless articles about who the “hottest” and “sexiest” female sports reporters are. YouTube videos also appear. Ones like “The 15 HOTTEST Female Sports Reporters EVER” will take over the search.

It doesn’t take much longer until the articles about sexism or sexual harassment in the industry appear.

In 2017, Sports Illustrated published an article called “Revisiting Sexual Harassment of Female Sports Reporters and Media Members”. Richard Deitsch first published the piece in 2015 to continue bringing light to the problem. The reports of sexual harassment continued so much so that he republished the article in 2017 with more accounts from women about their experiences with sexual advances on the job.

One of the new accounts came from an anonymous long time NFL writer. She considers herself to be one of the lucky few that has not experienced being “fondled or groped while doing her job.” She also sheds light on the cost of information in the industry. With men, they can swap information with ease. However, when swapping information with her and other female reporters they are asked “What’s in it for me?”

Many women in the industry are subjected to unwelcome sexual advances. Even if it’s not a face to face interaction, it still happens online. The articles of who is the “hottest” or “sexiest” female reporters are just the edge of what is out there. 

CBSN interview with Sarah Spain and Dana Jacobson.

Four years ago, CBSN aired an interview with ESPN Columnist and Sportscaster Sarah Spain. She addressed the multiple mean tweets that she receives daily.

CBSN correspondent, Dana Jacobson, chimed in with her experience as well. Both women recognize the amount of hate that they receive online. When talking to their male counter partners, many don’t experience the same level of hate.

Around the ninth minute of the video, Jacobson brings up a quote she saw in 2011. A woman having an opinion online is the equivalent of a short skirt. Some people think that because these women are online and putting their opinions out there, the harassment is justified in the same way short skirts are used in rape cases. That this is somehow an invitation to be harassed.

Jacobsen was asking people to stop attacking her as a person or a woman. Challenge her opinions and ideas if you want, but do not attack her with rude comments.

Sarah Spain and Julie Dicaro participate in the campaign #MoreThanMean.

That was why Spain joined in on the campaign “#MoreThanMean”. This video featured Spain and Julie Dicaro, a sports broadcaster and columnist. A few men were brought in to read the Tweets that were directed to Spain and Dicaro. The audience can see how hard it is to say the mean Tweets to the person’s face. This campaign tried to target not only the online harassment made to female sports reports but the overall harassment directed towards people.

Female sports reporters are subject to harassment in person and online. If you need more examples of this, look at all of the recent claims about the sexual harassment that’s happened with the Washington football team.

Not only is there a lack of respect, but there is also no recognition of how much work these women do. In 2019, Michelle Ruiz published an article on Vogue about women having to report from the sidelines. In NFL and NBA, the women can be seen doing the sideline reporting. The men are typically in-studio talking about the technical and statistical aspects of the game. While women are left to ask questions about how the players and coaches are feeling.

NBC Sports Correspondent, Rebecca Lowe, is part of the few numbers of women reporters in mainstream media to be in-studio during a game. Lowe can talk about the technical side of soccer, rather than do the sideline reporting.

This also happened during the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France. The in-studio was primarily made up of women. However, they still had men sportscasters present.

In early 2020, it was announced that Lesley Visser, a pioneering former sportswriter for the Globe, became the first woman to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sports Emmy Awards.

Not only do women seem to be missing from journalism awards, but we also lack representation.

According to IMDB, there was a 2016 short film documentary called “Female Sports Reporters: A History of Abuse”. However, when you try to search it on streaming services like Amazon Prime and YouTube, it is nowhere to be found.

The lack of respect and recognition for female sports reporters is despicable. There needs to be change. People need to start respecting and recognizing the work that women put into the industry. We’re not going anywhere. Change your ways or get out.