This international women’s day, the Blues/Blackhawks game will be covered by an all-female broadcast team, something largely unheard of in the world of sports. According to the 2018 Associated Press Sports Editors Racial and Gender Report Card, only 10 percent of sports editors were women, sparking conversations about the large disparity in the field.
The announcement was made by NBC Sports on Feb. 16. In NBC’s statement, Kathryn Tappen, the main anchor planned for the game, said she wanted the event to send a message.
“We hope our broadcast will help inspire young women watching to follow their dreams,” Tappen said.
In a profession largely based around male sports and a male audience, women in sports casting are often left on unequal ground compared to their men in the field.
“I’ve been broadcasting for 17 years, and yet the very first broadcast I did with a female producer was just two years ago,” Tappen said in the press realease.
Sydney Daniel, of Bethalto, Illinois, is a former SIUE student who has interned for the Blues and worked for the Gateway Grizzlies. She said she experienced discrimination and sexism when she entered the field.
“When I first went in for my interviews to be the emcee for the Gateway Grizzlies … I got a lot of backlash saying, ‘Are you able to do this?’ [and] ‘Can you fill a man’s shoes?’” Daniel said. “I was told I needed to lower my voice Someone suggested I should start drinking whiskey and smoking cigars.”
Not only does sexism exist for young hires in the field, but it’s prevalent among more experienced women as well. Madeline Kenney, a sportswriter for the Chicago Sun Times, spoke on women in sports media at an Illinois College Press Convention. She said she receives constant comparison to men in her field.
“Sometimes you have to prove yourself more than the next person. Like I’m constantly getting quizzed about my sports knowledge … I feel like sometimes people think that women should just cover women’s sports, and that’s not how equality works,” Kenney said.
Like Daniel, Kenney dealt with sexism when she was new. When she was a sports editor at The Phoenix at Loyola University, people would often give information to her male assistants while she was left in the dark.
Daniel said young women entering the field should find the ability to brush off negativity and do the best they can.
“Keep following your dreams. There’s going to be a lot of people that are going to tell you no and a lot of people that are going to say hurtful things to you, but you have to be able to just shake that off and go out there and do your best,” Daniel said.
Joe Gisondi, a journalism professor at Eastern Illinois University, said that there’s no reason it should be a male dominated field.
“Women being there is just a natural progression of the way things ought to be, and newsrooms need to cultivate that,” Gisondi said.
Students can watch the all-female Blues broadcast on NBCSN on March 8.