Column: Breaking boundaries

Katie Dalton, Video Editor & Sports Editor

In the historically male-centric field of sports reporters lies the inner discrimination that many women face. Women are constantly told, “Men just know more about sports,” and “How can you know about sports? You are a woman.” As the field of sports journalism has continued to grow and develop, many females still face challenges with equality with and respect from their male peers.
Female sports reporters are constantly surrounded by older men while making decisions, having to remind themselves that their opinions are just as valuable. They are patronized by fans and athletes being called “honey” or “sweetheart” while covering a story or a game.
“There is a big difference and it’s about entitlement to our bodies,” sports reporter Andrea Hangst said. “Men who disagree with us can comment about our bodies, what they want to do with them and how they have the right to because they’re mad at us. Men don’t say that to other men they disagree with on the internet.”
In the 1980s, female sports reporters were not allowed to enter locker rooms, ultimately giving the male sports reporters an advantage in obtaining interviews with athletes. Other athletes would simply refuse interviews from female reporters. This led many broadcast networks to not hire women to cover sports, almost removing them entirely from the field.
While many sports, such as football, baseball and hockey, are dominated by men, meaning that a person might have less knowledge on a sport that they may not have experienced first hand, sports are not just learned through experience, but also from evaluation and observation. By viewing the game from a spectator standpoint a person can further understand the game by piecing together parts that they may have not noticed before.
Although female sports reporters receive lots of hate and sexist comments, many still find ways to make the best out of it.
Mollie Handkins, a female sports reporter, views all the challenges and pushes them to the side using them as motivation to inspire others.
“It means defying the odds every time you show up to the stadium,” Handkins said. “It means paving the road and setting an example for an entire generation of young girls who want to be where you are one day.”
Through all of the discrimination and belittlement, female sports reporters still serve as role models for many young girls who love sports.
Women watch sports as well. Don’t just assume that the average female does not watch sports on television or in person. The same goes with men. Both men and women have hobbies outside of what traditional gender norms dictate; each person has unique hobbies not based on gender but on individual interest.
The question isn’t how much female sports reporters know compared to male sports reporters, but of how qualified a sports reporter is as an individual, regardless of gender
It is heartbreaking that I will face discrimination going into the field of sports journalism, knowing that my male collegues will never experience the same amount of pressure or comments I will endure. Although I am not scared, I know that I will have to work harder than any man that I may be competing against. I know that I will have to prove my knowledge of the game even more than others may have to. I know that I will have to listen to fans bad-mouthing me on the sidelines.
I hope that in the future this hatred and discrimination can be dissolved. I hope that the world of sports can be a safe, fun entertainment environment not just for the fans and athletes but for the media as well. So ladies… let’s talk about sports. It’s our time.

It is time to break through barriers, eradicate the stereotypes and shatter the ceiling. Women are pushing forward in the sports industry. Their gender does not define their knowledge of the game. Their gender does not define their journalistic capabilities. It is not their gender or femininity that defines their worth as a reporter. Our determination and tenacity guarantees our rightful place in the field of sports journalism.