TONY ESPINAL | Asst. Opinion Editor
I love sports, especially football. I love watching two brutish armies waging combat, vying for a chance to play in the ultimate game- the Super Bowl.
While I enjoy soccer and basketball as well, there is no sport I would rather watch over football.
However, I know of someone who loves football even more than I do. Someone who has proven that they are a football force to be reckoned with.
That person is my wife, Megan.
Does that surprise you? If it does, it shouldn’t.
Sports are not just for men.
Yet, even some of the most respected women in sports journalism are scoffed at when they are on television.
They are often viewed as pretty faces to keep men tuned in rather than respected for their craft.
Sports journalist Erin Andrews is no stranger to that double standard.
She once told the Hollywood Reporter sports blogs had been referring to her as the “Sideline Barbie.”
Following the infamous Richard Sherman rant, she was attacked by Jeff Pearlman as being the “Kardashian of televised sports” and he believes there are more qualified female reporters that are overlooked because they may not be as attractive as Andrews.
While I believe Andrews is a great sports reporter, Pearlman’s main point is not far from reality.
Female journalists are often passed over for their male counterparts or for women who may know less about sports but can draw male eyes to television.
I had the chance to interview Erica Rath, an aspiring sports journalist with a master’s degree in sports journalism.
Despite her background, she has had a very difficult time breaking into the industry.
Even during her time as an intern for a professional sports team, she said she faced blatant gender bias.
“Two male students, who went for the internship as well, didn’t have to interview at all,” she said, “I had to interview, send in clips, and meet with two department personnel before being offered (the internship).”
As her time there went on, she said more discrimination seemed to become evident.
Interns were chosen to attend several major sporting events such as the Big Ten tournament, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and the BCS championship, etc. As the events came and went, she noticed women were not being chosen to go.
“I got tickets to cover the (Sweet) 16 and (Elite) 8, but men were sent to the Final Four and the championship,” Erica said.
Even kindness can be seen as discrimination.
Once, she was the only female reporter covering a game. All the reporters were standing; however, people kept offering her their seats and asking if she was OK. She noticed none of the male reporters received the same treatment.
“I just want to be treated like a professional, like everyone else,” she said.
Butler University is getting ready to launch a new major this fall, sports media.
This is an exciting new venture for Butler and a great opportunity for all students to pursue a career in sports.
But I believe staff and students need to help foster a growing female presence in sports.
It cannot be just the responsibility of women to bring about change.
Male students and faculty must learn respect for their female counterparts and help bring an end to gender bias in sports.
Shannon Lane wrote a piece for The Huffington Post stating her disappointment in how students of her school reacted to ESPN reporter Sam Ponder, who was there for College GameDay. They shouted things like, “Just give me your number.”
“As a female college student who hopes to one day join the ranks of sports journalist,” Lane wrote, “I cannot accept this treatment of women in sports. I cannot accept this future for myself and for those women like me who love sports and want to report on them.”
So if you are a woman and interested in pursuing a career in sports reporting, I hope you go after it.
Do not allow yourself to be limited to being a sideline reporter.
Create an age where female analysts will join their male colleagues discussing the play-by-play of the Super Bowl.
Prove to the world that men are not the only ones who love sports.