Sports Business Watch: Women in Sports Media

Exploring Progress and Difficulties in Sports Media Careers for Women

microphones being held up man's face for interview
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Examining a story or theme from the sports business landscape can offer interesting insights about the evolving trends in the business.  These insights can inspired by single story or a combination of recent items that can be wrapped up neatly into a month-end review.

An example is to look at a single news story like the MLB Trade Deadline.  Another approach is to tie together a series of news worthy events around a single theme.

  This article focuses on the topic of women in sports media.

One story related to women in sports careers that received the most coverage in the last few years is Becky Hammon's hiring as an assistant coach by the NBA's San Antonio Spurs.

A few other items beyond Hammon's emergence as an NBA coach also deserve your attention:

  • CBS debuted a sports talk show featuring all female talent  - a first for the industry.  The show is carried on the CBS Sports Network and includes a deep cast: TV legend Lesley Visser, former Oakland Raiders' CEO Amy Trask and rising star Allie LaForce among others.

As quoted in this USA Today story, Visser concedes that CBS is taking a risk with this format in introducing the new show entitled "We Need to Talk".  From an outsider's perspective it is a risk worth taking and whether the show succeeds or fails, it marks another moment of progress in the evolution of the role of women in media covering sports and creating sports related content.

  • While that first item represents a positive development in opportunities for women in media, this item is less upbeat.  As covered by Sports Illustrated media scribe Richard Deitsch, Fox replaced veteran NFL sideline reporter Pam Oliver on its top NFL team with Erin Andrews.

On one hand, Andrew's increased visibility and popularity make her ascension to a the role of top NFL sideline reporter a no-brainer".

  But another interpretation of this story - as Dietsch points out - is that "women in their 50s on sports television have long been an endangered species", which is a thinly veiled way of confronting age discrimination that women face in certain roles.  This topic is certainly worth being tuned in to going forward.

As for Oliver, she will remain on Fox's NFL coverage this season working with another announcing tandem, and also signed a long term deal to remain with Fox in other roles - including appearances on Showtime's 60 Minutes Sports.

  • After looking at these items featuring women who are at the top of the sports media pecking order, it is important to consider how hard it is to break into sports media as a young female.  Hat tip (again) to Richard Deitsch for printing an anonymous letter from a thirty-something female reporter (scroll down to item six) on the intense competition for these early career positions.

The narrative she offers revolves around how surface level characteristics - including weight and physical appearance - play an outsized role in the selection process for such jobs.  Thematically, it is an echoing of the Pam Oliver story. 

As an industry, it is important for Deitsch - and others - to stay focused on reporting on the challenges facing women in sports media.



Be sure to follow me on Twitter @SprtsMktgProf for links to other breaking sports business news.

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