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.
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.
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.”