Women making strides in sports broadcasting

Women have made great strides into the world of sports broadcasting over the past 50 years according to Lou Schwartz, the American Sportscasters Association’s President.  What started as a male-only world has evolved into a world where women not only can talk sports but have a passion for it too.

A Beginning Timeline

1967 – Jane Chastain is hired by Miami’s WTVJ, to be the first known woman sports broadcaster in America.

1974 – CBS hires Jane Chastain. She is the first female sports broadcaster to work for a national network.

1975 – Phyllis George is promoted from CBS to The NFL Today; the first woman on a sports-only program.

1983 – ESPN, which launched in 1979, hires Gayle Gardner to be their first female sportscaster.

Present – Women currently make up only approximately 8% of the on-air personalities on ESPN.

Although women have come a long way in sports broadcasting, a large gap still exists between the number of men and women in the profession. According to a 2008 article in USA Today, although women are becoming increasingly popular in the field, it is rare to have them in prominent on-air positions such as anchors or providing the play-by-play. In fact, only one woman did this for football on ESPN, Pam Ward.

Pam Ward courtesy of ESPN

In addition to the large gap between the number of female and male anchors, other bias exists for women. A simple internet search for female sportscasters can show how they are viewed by society. A few of the links displayed are titled: Who is the hottest female ESPN anchor, World’s Hottest Female Sports Reporters, and Pictures of Sideline Hotties. Those are just the top three links.

Regardless of the obstacles to being a female sports reporter, the same rules apply to women sportscasters as they do to men. Lou Schwartz sums it up the best:

“All sportscasters agree on one thing, and that is as a woman sportscaster, just as any other sportscaster, one must always be prepared, know the game, and remember that real sports fans know what is real and what is not.”

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