By Alannah Morales
“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.” Remember this comment that caused an uproar back in October of 2017 when Cam Newton was being interviewed by the media just days before playing against the Detroit Lions? This isn’t anything new for women sports journalists. Whether it be “funny” to hear us talk about sports, being called “sweetheart” by the coaches or that shocked look we get when we ask a question that’s deemed as “good,” women in the sports industry have learned to not take things personally and rather just take it with a grain of salt.
For women in sports and sports broadcast, there are numerous challenges. We must work twice as hard as the men to show that we belong, and even then, our work can be overlooked by our appearance. Despite this, I have decided to share some women who disregarded those who said “You can’t,” or “It’ll be tough,” and even, “You’ll really have to know what you’re talking about” (as if we don’t already).
Erin Andrews is a sports broadcaster for FOX Sports, as well as a television personality. Despite her coverage of multiple events such as Super Bowl XLVII, MLB All-Star Game, and several World Series games, there are those who seem to be infatuated with only her looks. From being called “Sideline Princess” to being recorded naked and then it going viral, Andrews has had to defend her image repeatedly. In an interview with HuffPost Live, Andrews said, “…we have some of the best-looking guys at Fox.” When questioned whether she allows those who see her value in her appearance, she shared, “They work out all the time. They’re beautiful men wearing beautiful clothes, and no one says anything about that. That’s the only time I kind of get salty about it because I’m like, how am I different from these guys?” It was discovered during the 2017 football season that Andrews was battling cervical cancer. While fighting this, Andrews didn’t stop working throughout the NFL season, and it was only two days after her first surgery that she was back on the field. Andrews held strong throughout the season withstanding her trial and cancer procedures.
Serena Williams is one of the best tennis players in the world. Williams holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles (23) and doubles (14). In both men and women’s tennis, she holds the title of being the only tennis player in history to have win singles titles at least six times in three out of the four Grand Slam tourneys. Williams is also the only tennis player to have won two Grand Slams- seven times each. Williams now also holds the valuable title of a mother and wife, and she remains a force to be reckoned with.
In 2015, the Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter as an assistant coaching intern. This made Welter the first woman coach in the NFL. Not only was Welter the first female coach in the NFL, but she is also the first woman who has played as a running back for a men’s professional football team. Welter has shown that women can take control in the NFL coaching field and has set up opportunities for success for women such as Katie Sowers (seasonal offensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers), who is the second female to be a coach in the NFL. Before being hired on with the NFL, Welter made her mark as the first female to be a coach in a men’s football league. These many firsts for Welter make her an inspiration to women who aspire to work in the sports field everywhere.
If you’re a Spurs fan (and even if you’re not), the name Becky Hammon should ring a bell for you. Hammon is a San Antonio Spurs assistant coach. While Hammon isn’t the first woman who worked as an assistant coach for the NBA (she is the second), she is the first woman to hold a full-time assistant coach position in all of football, basketball, baseball, and hockey. Hammon, who is from South Dakota, even made it into the Olympics in 2008 and 2012 to play with the Russian national basketball team after becoming a naturalized citizen of Russia. She also played for the WNBA with teams such as the San Antonio Stars and New York Liberty.
You may recognize her from the Go Daddy commercials, but Danica Patrick has proven that she’s more than just a pretty face on the television. Patrick is a professional racing driver and she holds the title of being the only woman ever to win in an IndyCar Series race. Aside from the multiple awards she’s won (2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series, 2005 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, as well as being the first woman to win a Cup pole in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series) she has demolished the barricade that kept women and men separated in race car driving.
To be a woman in a man dominated industry isn’t easy, and I guess we never expected it to be. From the beginning, we’re told the competition is tough and that “making it” in the sports industry is hard, but here’s what these women proved: it’s not impossible. So, to the women who have taken the discouraging words and for the women who have to fight for their voice to be heard in a male-dominated field, you’ve got it. It’s not impossible, and you have the ability to be even better than your male colleague Jeff (who thinks he’s all that just because he can remember stats from when the Lakers were actually good). Go out there and show the world that you know your stuff! You can do it!
Featured illustration by Hannah Wisterman.