Posted by Taylor Soule
“Taylor Soule, Times-Delphic sports editor.” My new title complemented my name like sprinkles on a cookie. I hustled to Tennis Club practice hours after accepting the position last spring, eager to tell my friends. Their replies, however, surprised me.
“You’re sports editor, but you’re a girl?”
Unfortunately, sports journalism still bears the “man’s world” stereotype, deterring women from pursuing careers as sportswriters, editors, announcers and commentators. Title IX sanctioned women’s sports in 1972, but 30 years later, females yet face gender-exclusive disrespect in the athletics arena.
For female athletes, appearance often overshadows athleticism. While male athletes receive the media’s attention for fitness, female athletes receive attention for fashion.
When Venus Williams donned glittery garb at the 2010 U.S. Open, for instance, her outfit consumed headline after headline and comment after comment, match after match. Williams’ sparkly number sidelined her 18-year professional tennis career, temporarily overshadowing her 43 singles titles, 20 doubles titles and four Olympic gold medals.
For female sportswriters, stereotypes often overshadow (and trivialize) achievements. I believe one misconception underlies the “man’s world” stereotype, thwarting appreciation for women’s contributions to sports journalism. Namely, society wrongfully assumes women lack sports savvy, cueing flippancy toward their contributions.
The University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport published a groundbreaking study in 2006 after surveying more than 300 daily newspapers about women’s contributions to their sports coverage. Authors Richard Lapchick, Jenny Brenden and Brian Wright concluded that women comprised just 12.6 percent of newspaper sports staffs.
Although female sportswriters face gender-exclusive challenges, I’m eager to join that 12.6 percent after graduation.
Until graduation, though, I’m appreciating my newfound position in the journalism world: I’m sports editor, and I’m a girl. No buts about it.
Will female sportswriters ever gain the “sports expert” status automatically awarded to male sportswriters?