In a world of pink and bedazzled “women’s jerseys” as well as signs such as “Ryan Kesler (leave your wife and) marry me” and “I’d give a kidney to make out with Sidney,” it is becoming harder and harder for women to be taken seriously as sports fans let alone sports professionals.
The controversy surrounding two popular female reporters does not help the case for others who wish to follow behind them.
Ines Sainz, a reporter for Mexico’s TV Azteca, famously appeared at a game between the NFL’s New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens in a little black dress and matching black stilettos.
Her wardrobe choice encouraged words of praise from the Jets players. However, their praise was not directed at her professional skills.
Sainz told ABC “I heard the noise. I knew they were talking about me. I was just focusing on my job and hoping that [quarterback] Mark Sanchez was coming soon so I could interview him.”
ESPN reporter Erin Andrews also fell into controversy when she was the victim of a peephole video in her hotel room. YouTube searches of “Erin Andrews ESPN” bring up more videos of photo shoots and court releases than professional work for the sports network.
USA Today sports writer Christine Brennan made it clear that Andrews did not deserve what happened to her. However she did make a very important point on her Twitter account: “women sports journalists need to be smart and not play to the frat house.”
The stigma is also alive within coaching as well. Even at Seton Hill University, a formerly all-women college, only one woman coaches a men’s sport. Melissa Miller serves as an assistant coach for both the cross-country and track and field teams. However, both these teams share a coaching staff between the men’s and women’s sides.
Within all the women’s teams combined, 10 male coaches – whether head or assistant – are on the rosters.
Meghan Herlihy, a senior sports media major at Ithaca College, has been faced with similar issues regarding men assuming she has ulterior motives in her degree.
“It’s almost inevitable that any female fan of any sport will be accused of ‘being in it for the guys’ at some point in their lives,” Herlihy said.
“I used to go to the TV lounge to watch my beloved New York Giants on Sunday afternoons. There was always a group of guys in there watching the games who were skeptical of me at first. After about two weekends of watching football with me and our conversations about the NFL, they realized that I truly liked football and liked having me watch the games with them.”
For those girls and women who wish to pursue a career in sports, fear not. There will always be questions to your “legitimacy” as a professional and your motives for what you are doing.
Herlihy’s advice? “For starters, don’t make it easy for the doubters. Don’t go to games in clubbing gear. Don’t make marriage proposal signs. For the love of God, don’t buy those feminized pink jerseys.”