Press "Enter" to skip to content

Sports media’s biggest impasse

The panel on obstacles for women in sports media addresses the crowd during the inaugural Charley Steiner symposium. Photo via the BU Steiner School Twitter account.
The panel on obstacles for women in sports media addresses the
crowd during the inaugural Charley Steiner symposium. Photo via the BU Steiner School Twitter account.

Looking into the giant crystal ball that is the world of sports, its easy to spot the worst.

However, a panel, which was part of the Charley Steiner school of sports communication’s inaugural symposium, discussed the most insurmountable issue in sports.

The panel, led by sports journalists Jane Leavy, Julie DiCaro and Molly Knight, addressed the many obstacles women in sports media face on a daily basis.

Dunja Antunovic, associate professor of sports communcation at Bradley, opened up the panel with a question regarding the representation of female reporters in the locker room.

“Well, it was certainly all white and all male,” Leavy, an award-winning journalist from the Washington Post and a matriarch of sports journalism, said.

“Nothing’s changed,” Knight, an author and Los Angeles Dodgers reporter, said.

It’s widely regarded that the sports media industry is dictated by men.

Antunovic cited a report from the Associated Press in 2014 stated 80 percent of sports media professionals are men, while the number of female publication editors barely reaches 10 percent.

Other national surveys, including one from the Women’s Media Center, report on how women are vastly underrepresented in the sports media industry. Findings revealed 90 percent of sports journalists are white and 90 percent are male. Other reports include how women suffer from unequal pay, a lack of support and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Along with job cuts, those are among the many reasons why the number of female reporters has dipped severely in recent years.

“I can’t remember what story I was doing, but I called somebody who was the head of the Associated Press sports editors and because of the loss of jobs in journalism across the board, when they cut people, they cut the people who are newest on,” Leavy said. “Invariably, those tend to be the people that’ve been diversity hires and females, so there’s actually a lower percentage now of women covering sports in the newspapers than in the 80s.”

Leavy was one of the first women to enter a locker room for a postgame interview, as a reporter for the Washington Post in the 1980s, a time when women were only just beginning to enter the sports media world.

“Little by little, it began to change, and you might see another woman in the locker room and you’d do a rain dance,” Leavy said. “You’re always acutely aware that you’re in the minority.”

Time has progressed since Leavy first entered the sports media world, but according to update anchor DiCaro, the industry hasn’t changed much.

DiCaro, who currently works for the Chicago sports radio station 670 the Score, said women don’t get the same opporunities as men do.

“When I started at WGN … there were three women, and we were all update anchors,” DiCaro said. “They had guys coming in who hadn’t been in the industry six months, right out of college, and they were getting hosting positions. But we went to update anchors.”

She also noted the double standard women in sports media are held to.

“There are guys — whether they think this consciously or not — that think women don’t belong in sports,” DiCaro said.

As one of the reporters for the Patrick Kane rape investigation earlier this summer, DiCaro received a large amount of negative attention through social media, forcing her to stay home from work due to a threatening message on Twitter.

DiCaro said while the urge to ignore these insults is the usual response, not responding can make their actions appear acceptable to the perpetrators.

“I do feed trolls,” DiCaro said. “I do talk back … I just don’t think this is fair when it’s your job.”

Senior sports communication major and softball player Kendall Duffy said the sports media industry lacks women as a result of the toxic environment women often find themselves in.

“When you think of sports, you just automatically think of guys and guys watching sports,” Duffy said. “You never really include women in that.”

Duffy said she belives the problem, while constantly avoided, can be solved with increasing the number of women in sports media.

“I think the biggest part is to increase our numbers in the sporting world,” Duffy said. “There’s still some pretty bad stories about sexual harassment and stuff, [but] it never sounds like there’s a lot of female broadcasters or news reporters.”

Until the day comes when women are better represented in the sports media industry, misogyny will continue to perpetuate the glass ceiling.

“I think the toughest thing will be getting the females in that world, but once we get there, it’ll be a little easier,” Duffy said.

Copyright © 2020, The Scout, Bradley University. All rights reserved.
The Scout is published by members of the student body of Bradley University. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University.