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Level the playing field

Last December I read a newspaper article that took a shot at good-looking women in sports broadcasting.

Last December I read a newspaper article that took a shot at good-looking women in sports broadcasting. It maintained physical appearance took precedence over talent.

How depressing! I’d been all athlete all through school, ran track, figure skated, and even spent time in the penalty box after trading punches with a fellow hockey player. I’d covered sports for my university’s TV, radio, and print mediums, but darn, I was a woman — and blond at that. There went my credibility as a sports broadcaster. Talk about an unlevel playing field.

Take 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney, who, last October, made this unsportsmanlike comment: “What really bugs me about television’s coverage is those damn women they have down on the sidelines who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”

Many sportscasters hold the same belief. The overly sexualized and hyper-masculine hotbed of sports culture has enforced the idea women don’t understand sports.

Speaking of the field: Are there any women on it? To watch TV, listen to radio broadcasts or read the sports pages, you’d never know thousands of little girls in this country play hockey, soccer, baseball and that an even greater percentage of adult females are involved in pro sports.

But scantily clad tennis, figure skating and volleyball athletes get the coverage. When I tell men my career goals they say I’ll never fully understand sports because I’ll never have the chance to play in the NHL or the NFL. They say men don’t want to hear a women talk about a sport she can’t play.

So how did Rod Black cover figure skating all those years?

What female sportscasters and female athletes have in common is — to steal a line from Rodney Dangerfield — we get no respect.

I want sports networks to start showing women respect in the hockey arenas, football fields and baseball diamonds, cover our games and tournaments and to hire more women to cover sports.

It’s time to level the playing field, boys.

– Julie Stewart-Binks is currently a student at Queen’s University with hopes of pursuing
a career in sports broadcasting.