I’ve always been hooked on sports.
Growing up in Boston, it’s not hard to say why. Boston teams have won 11 championships in my lifetime, and each one has fueled my passion a little bit more.
In second grade, while all of my friends were princesses, singers or movie characters for Halloween, I dressed as Nomar Garciaparra.
No one ever told me I couldn’t. Until they did.
Every female sports fan I know has had the same experience. Growing up, boys would question our knowledge of sports, asking absurdly hard questions they don’t even know the answer to in an effort to prove we don’t know anything about the topic.
But why? Why do men care if women know more about sports than they do? Why does it bother them to have a civilized conversation about last night’s game or who the Patriots are playing after the bye week?
Why do some men care so much about not having women in the professional sports industry that they would protest the hiring of women on Twitter?
This past June, Sports Illustrated’s Charlotte Wilder tweeted about a job opening at SI, and she especially encouraged women to apply. In response, Ed Werder, a former NFL reporter for ESPN, confronted Wilder about her lack of encouragement for men to apply to the position and accused her of sexism and discrimination.
Let me just tell you — sports journalism doesn’t have any problem hiring men. According to SB Nation’s Dayana Sarkisova, men make up 90 percent of sports media.
When Werder’s tweet hit people’s Twitter feeds, a huge portion of sports media blew up. Reporters, editors and columnists alike were all standing up for Wilder and attempting to educate someone who clearly needed to hear about what the sports media landscape was going to look like in 2018.
Women, especially, came together and encouraged one another to keep paving the way for women in the sports industry.
I think Britt McHenry, a former ESPN correspondent, said it best.
“Never once did my parents say apply or tryout ‘because you’re a girl.’ They told me to apply because I’m a hard worker. At ESPN, I never wanted to write for ESPNW. I wanted to be on the same page as the men. True equality. Novel concept…”
Watching sports Twitter come together in response to Werder’s tweets was truly inspiring. So many people of all races and genders were standing up for equality — something the industry clearly lacks.
Though Werder’s tweets are reflective of a portion of today’s sports media, his opinions are clearly not widespread throughout the industry. More and more, I am seeing women’s names in places ranging from bylines to lists of some of the world’s top sports media companies.
Elena Bergeron is the editor in chief of SB Nation. Erika Nardini is the CEO of Barstool Sports. In September, Amazon Video announced its Thursday Night Football announcers — Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm.
These are certainly great strides for the industry, but that 90 percent marker is still far too high.
It’s going to be hard to break into sports media as a woman, but I’m still going to try.