Women in Sportscasting By Mish DeCarlo

Sportscasting: A radio or television broadcast of a sports event or information about sports.

Women have come a long way since they began pioneering into the sportscasting world. Originally, when televised sports became at home entertainment, men were the only people doing sideline reports and press box commentating. It was not until trailblazer Jeannie Morris took a stab at it in the 1970’s was it acceptable for women to participate in on-air sports broadcasting. However, Jeannie faced a tough road ahead of her.


Jeannie Morris began her career as a sportscaster working for the NFL and reporting for the Chicago Bear in early 1970. One of her first assignments was to cover the Minnesota Vikings versus the Chicago Bears game at Metropolitan Stadium.

Journalists receive press passes when covering any event which grants them access into the sacred press box. Press passes also doubles as their ticket into said event. However, back the day, press passes had specific rules for their carrying journalists marked on the back. One of these rules was that women were not permitted to enter the press box. Because of this rule, Jeannie had no seat to watch and report the game from. This ultimately leads her to find refuge on top of the press box where she was able to carry out her job and report the game.

This does not sound too bad until you add in that there was a full on blizzard happening during the game.

And this was only the beginning of problems women faced when trying to burst into the sportscasting world. For example, even after women were finally allowed into the press box, no accommodations had been made for them. Read: there were only men’s restrooms.

Since Jeannie’s days reporting there has been an obvious influx in women sportscasters. So, thank you Jeannie Morris and all the women that have made this happen.

Today we can see people such as Suzyn Waldman report for the New York Yankees, Pam Ward on ESPN, and both Lisa Salteres and Erin Andrews on Fox Sports. However, out of all these names, Erin Andrews has had an in particularly notable career.

Some career milestones and accomplishments of Erin Andrews:

  • Began her sportscasting career in 2000 after graduation from the University of Florida
  • Hired by ESPN as an NHL reporter in 2004
  • Began Thursday Night Football sideline reporting for ESPN in 2005
  • Voted “America’s Sexiest Sportscaster” two years in a row by Playboy Magazine (2007 and 2008)
  • Competed in the tenth season of “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC and placed third
  • Became a host of “Dancing with the Stars” in 2014
  • Signed a contract with Fox Sports and is currently their biggest face

After looking at Erin Andrews laundry list of accomplishments, one sticks out like a sore thumb. This is because of the media team associated with it–– Playboy.

I am confident that everyone on this earth over the age of twelve knows what Playboy Magazine is. The word “playboy” alone, I’m sure, conjures up certain images for people too.

After reading about her winning this award, I decided to see the article for myself–– just to see what it actually entailed. However, what I found was the comments and discussion around Andrews getting recognized for this was even more interesting than the award itself. There are so many comments about this award and Andrews being attached to them you could scroll and read them for days, but they all are pretty much the same. It’s people proclaiming that there is no surprise that the trophy was handed to someone who is really tall and really blonde. Read: A global definition of “hot girl.”

Here's a photo of her just to help set the stage THAT much more:

Yeah, I know. She deserved those awards.

But, all the attention on Erin Andrews for her sexy awards ultimately lead stations to inevitably pick up on the reason why their ratings were spiking so high. Or should I say the psychology behind it. And it comes down to this: With the shift in display of women on air, there has also been a shift within their job description.

Let me break that down for you real quick. Unless you are smokin’ hot, you are not getting hired. Oh, but you have years and years of journalism experience and degrees to back your work? Doesn’t matter. To media stations, ratings translate to money. Therefore, the higher the ratings, the more money in their pocket. Are you starting to see the picture now?

This new lookout on hiring destructs the journalist integrity of the entire job.

The question that is now brought up when regarding women sportscasters is that that are they still traditional reporter (like the men in the industry) or have they simply become a man’s source of entertainment?

It is well known that television is a visual medium that favors the fair of the face–– particularly when it comes to women. Because of this, women “age out” before men do. This statistic simply stands because of the fact that men enjoy looking at pretty women, and when are women at their peak? Correct, in their twenties. Anything beyond this age gap is considered old and unattractive.

Women are now being hired to be a “hot face” among a sea of ex-professional athletes and males with a degree in journalism to boost the ratings of the pre-game and post game shows and sideline interviews.

Sexist much?

Now, one of my uncles has been in the television industry for nearly thirty years. He started out as a host for a dating game show on Fox called Studs in the 90’s. Once that show ended, he began picking up acting jobs on popular sitcoms such as Seinfeld, Malcolm in the Middle, Boy Meets World, and Disney’s Wizards of Waverley Place. One of his more notable television jobs was voicing Hugh Neutron on Nickelodeon’s animated show The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius.

Eventually my uncle branched out of the sitcom life and into on-air reporting and journalism. In 2005 he landed a show with the Travel Channel called Taste of America where he travelled around and tried food from different places. More recently, however, he began hosting a news show in Chicago called Windy City Live.

This is the art from my Uncle Mark's show on the Travel Channel. Fun fact: I was on it when I was eight. My job was to eat a frozen banana and tell the camera what I thought about it. This is where I decided I wanted to be an on-air journalist.

This past October, Windy City Live partnered with WGN Sports to do some of the Cubs World Series pre-game and post games shows. My uncle worked as one of the reporters. After he finished this job, he sat me down to talk.

I am an aspiring sportscaster and my uncle has been a great mentor to me. During his time working in sports media, he made some useful observations. For instance, getting a job as a sportscaster requires an audition. However, over time, the audition process has evolved from being an evaluation of how well you can present the news to how well will the station thinks the audience will perceive your “look.”

After all, sex sells.

After interviewing him for the original essay assignment, two things he said stuck out to me:

“There’s only one reason why networks hire women to commentate on sports. The sad truth is that it's because they’re pretty and it has been basically been scientifically proven that men [a majority of sports fans] enjoy looking at pretty women.”


“Stations use this fact to hire women and give them an ‘opportunity' to break into sportscasting, when in reality they’re giving them an opportunity to trade on their beauty.”

I think that this truth is something that women who are pursuing sportscasting need to be aware of. It is up to us as the future of journalism to keep its integrity alive since stations are being discriminatory and judging off of a factor that is uncontrollable.

Despite this truth, I believe that people, no matter what gender, should be hired because it’s what they’re good at and passionate about, not because they look good doing it.

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.