Want to know what really gets me going? What really grinds my gears? An unforgettable moment in sports– be it one play, an entire game, a series, what have you. I love it. I live for it.
I was the first child, grandchild, niece in my family. It stayed that way for 3 years until my brother came along, but by the time he gained any kind of coordination I was 20. Just kidding, I was probably 7 or 8. Now, he’s over 6-feet tall and can unfortunately beat me in driveway basketball, but it took him a solid 15 years to get there. THAT’S NEITHER HERE NOR THERE. You see, from my mom and dad, to my aunt and uncles, I was the first one they could train (real loose term) to become an athlete. From the time I could stand, I was doing my best to dunk on the Little Tikes basketball hoop I was gifted before any male offspring came around. From the moment I could run, I was playing backyard baseball, learning to throw a spiral, and perfecting my jumpshot. My Aunt Josie had season tickets to the Indians in the mid 90’s and she’d take me to a game every chance she got. As I got older my passion for basketball was more outstanding than the rest, but sports (and Cleveland sports) were my ish; my first love; the peanut butter to my jelly; the mayonnaise to my french fries (trust me).
After a while, it became less about playing. I had a great jumper (still do), but I knew it was never going to take me anywhere. My overall love for the game of basketball and other sports never faltered because of that, though. It just made my appreciation for athletes much stronger.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. As much as I love sports, being a woman who loves sports has a lot of negativity that comes with it. I love, and at the same time hate, when I’ve joined in on a conversation (between dudes) that’s going on around me about sports and I get that look of shock like “wow, you really know what you’re talking about.” It makes me feel good to know what I said was respected, but the fact that it was ever doubted in the first place is incredibly annoying. Like, because I have a vagina I’m automatically not expected to know anything about sports, right? Thanks, sorority chicks from Arizona who made it even worse, last week. Next time I look like an idiot, I’ll be sure to follow-up by donating to a charity and somehow snag a TV spot on Ellen. #SMH
And then, there’s the objectivity and complete ignorance that comes out of people’s mouths every day about women in sports and women in sports media. Some scenarios for you:
On Tuesday night, Jessica Mendoza made history when she called the Astros-Yankees playoff game. She became the first woman to call a nationally-televised game. This past August, she was also the first woman to be in the booth at an ESPN MLB broadcast of a Diamondbacks-Cardinals game. You go, Jessica Mendoza. But of course, the arrogant assholes on social media came out saying things like, “Someone give this girl a softball game to commentate instead” and “How can she have any insight into the game of baseball?” Listen up, jerks. How can YOU have any insight into the game of baseball? Tell me about that time you played in a Major League game. How was it? Must not have been so great if you’re pissing on other people’s success from your couch.
The ragging on Doris Burke, and all other female sideline reporters has got.to.stop. Why don’t you try interviewing Gregg Popovich. Let his cold, sarcastic stare feed into your soul for the longest minute on television and see what it feels like. I also bet you can interview Richard Sherman’s shrieking hyena self and Marshawn Lynch’s less-than-thrilled responses with the best of ’em, huh? You know that all of these women aren’t *just* sideline reporters, right? They’re exceptionally talented journalists, many of whom hold leadership roles behind the scenes. Live T.V. is hard. When Ronda Rousey co-hosted SportsCenter last night, sure it was awkward, but try telling that to her face. Chances are you won’t like what happens to your face after that. These ladies have gone through a lot to be where they are. Appreciate, don’t discriminate.
TO SUM IT UP
I’ll let Katie Nolan take it from here. She sums up my point quite beautifully:
Have I mentioned that I love being a sports fan? Those who know me best know I live and die by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Some of my idols? Sage Steele, Lindsay Czarniak, Cari Champion, Hannah Storm, Rachel Nichols, Michelle Beadle, Erin Andrews, the list goes on. I kindly suggest that the next time a female starts talking about sports, don’t look at her like she’s from outer space. It’s better than treating her like a “princess.” Trust me.