It’s 2015 and women have made tremendous strides in the sports industry. They’re in the front offices of major teams; they’re coaches, anchors, referees, administrators and much more. You name it; women are doing it in sports. But apparently an usher at Lucas Oil Stadium hasn’t gotten the memo. Sunday after the Jaguars, Colts game said usher denied three female journalists access to the Jaguars locker because, well, they were women. It sucks that the usher didn’t know that many female sports journalists exist and make their ways to and through many male locker rooms to cover sports teams. It sucks that in 2015 folks still have gender biases that impact the way others can maneuver in this world. But rather than dwell on how much these things suck, I figured it’s a great opportunity to use the usher’s ignorance as teaching lesson. Here’s introducing (and re-introducing) some the industry’s top sportscasters and journalists. Oh, and they happen to be women.
You can’t really mention women in locker rooms without mentioning this woman, Melissa Ludtke. As a young Sports Illustrated reporter, Ludtke had been assigned to cover the World Series between the Yankees and the Dodgers in 1977. The only problem with the assignment was that the Yankees (like the other teams around the league) enforced an MLB ban on women in the locker room. Ludtke and Time, Inc. (owner of Sports Illustrated) filed suit in federal court claiming that the policy unfairly put her at a competitive disadvantage solely because of her gender. District Court Judge Constance Baker Motley (a pretty awesome woman in her own right) agreed ruling that the policy gave an unfair advantage to male reporters and violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Ludtke and Time’s refusal to accept the status quo and Judge Motley’s decision literally opened doors for female sports reporters.
In 1967 when she was hired by WTVJ in Miami, Jane Chastain became the first female sportscaster in the US. In 1974 CBS hired her to provide commentary for various televised sports events. In that same year she became the first female NFL announcer, as she provided commentary alongside Don Criqui and Irv Cross.
In 1978 NFL Today hired Jayne Kennedy. This model/pageant winner turned sportscaster became the first African-American female to host a network sports television broadcast.
While you may know her from ESPN’s Sportscenter, Hannah Storm’s career as a sportscaster started well before she joined ESPN in 2008. She got her start as a drive-time sportscaster in Houston in the 1980s. By 1989 she moved on to become CNN’s first female host on CNN Sports Tonight. Storm has covered every major sport imaginable. From her coverage of the Daytona 500 to Wimbeldon to the World Figure Skating Championships, Storm proves time and time again that women know sports.
Bonnie Bernstein can easily be considered sportscasting royalty. Throughout her distinguished and well-respected career she has had the opportunity to cover the NFL, NCAA men’s basketball, college football. She makes regular appearances on NFL Live and Outside the Lines. She is the first sportscaster in history to serve as sideline reporter for both a network television and network radio as a correspondent, reporting for CBS Sports and Westwood One Radio.
I’ve only mentioned a SMALL number of the pioneers and current movers and shakers in female sports journalists and sportscasters. If you want to know more, here are some great links that’ll provide you a more in-depth look at what women have done and continue to do in sports media.