Girl Power

A number of the broadcasters that I admire are women; needless to say the video of Erin Andrews that landed Michael David Barrett in jail was very upsetting to me. The thought that this would be done to anyone is terrible, but to a woman competing in a male dominated field it seems to be yet another obstacle to overcome on the path to success and respect. Over the years women in sportscasting have been subjected to a variety of degrading situations: catcalls, leers, overtly suggestive comments, and in some cases even more physical acts such as Lesley Visser’s case of getting dragged out of a locker room during the 1980 Cotton Bowl. I feel no matter how hard these women work they continue to not be taken seriously. 

Female sportscasters often find themselves on the sidelines of college and pro football games, such as Pam Oliver and Andrea Kremer, where stringent NFL rules make it nearly impossible for them to do their jobs.  Female sportscasters are never given any consideration of hosting a pre game show, doing analysis, or play by play. Most of these jobs are given to men, and not for their reporting quality but because they have played the game. There are a few exceptions to this rule:  Pam Ward covers college football for ESPN, then there’s Suzyn Waldman and Sherry Ross, radio color commentators who cover the New York Yankees and the New Jersey Devils respectively.  While the playing field would seem to be leveling so to speak, the networks are still slow in doing this.

Women sportscasters have to be smarter and work harder than their male counterparts because they must be prepared to earn their credibility.  Some of the most talented women wind up in the studio, such as Linda Cohn and Hannah Storm of ESPN’s Sportscenter.   In several major media markets women are doing the 6 and 11 sportscast and working in cable sports outlets across the country. That being said, one thing that has bothered me is that my beloved Pittsburgh has never had a female sportscaster on the local newscasts.  I hope that things continue to change in the field, and that female sportscasters will receive more fair opportunities to be on the air.

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Second Chance

Ben Roethlisberger took a few minutes to talk to the press after OTA this week.  Ben talked about being grateful for a second chance and the support he’s recieved from his teammates. He admitted that he has to make better decisions off the field, and that being away from the team gave him a chance to think about his past mistakes.  Roethlisberger will be suspended for 4 to 6 games during the regular season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. 

Roethlisberger was never formally charged for the alleged rape in a Georgia nightclub, but the nonetheless was still called to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.   Roethlisberger had to go through counseling and met with mental health professionals.  Last week Goodell gave him the go ahead to return to the team. The suspension could be reduced to four games and that decision will be made before the regular season. I hope that Ben takes advantage of his second chance and shows himself to be a better leader both on and off the field.

Poor Character

In April, Santonio Holmes was traded to the New York Jets for fifth round draft pick. He was traded not for poor in-game performance, but because of poor choices off the field. During the 2008 season he was charged with smoking marijuana outside of the Mellon Arena, as well as allegedly throwing a drink at a woman in a Orlando nightclub (though she ultimately filed no charges). He was suspended for a game against the New York Giants.

Following his Twitter account, Holmes told a fan to drink the worst thing in the world and kill himself. In response to outraged fan he also posted that “the fans don’t pay his salary.”  I think the twitter post that bothered me most was about waking and baking, a reference to waking up and smoking marijuana. The fans may not directly pay his salary, but he’s still a public figure and role model.

Before the trade Holmes was to be suspended for the first 4 games of the upcoming season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Holmes was also cited on an airplane for not turning off his Ipod, saying he was targeted because he was a Steeler (at least he won’t need to worry about that happening again). 

It bothers me that Holmes has great talent, but makes bad choices off the field. He will be a free agent at the end of the season, and the Jets are taking a huge risk with him If Santonio gets into trouble with drugs he will certainly be suspended for the season.  Holmes wants to play in big market and get a long term contract.  Remember Plaxico Burress? Just imagine Holmes getting into trouble in a New York City nightclub.

Giving Due Credit

Over the past year, sportscaster Erin Andrews has had a lot to overcome;  first a sleazy video of her in the nude done by a stalker (for which Michael David Barrett is now serving jail time) and an FBI investigation of death threats made against her to name a couple.  In the face of having to deal with such things, Andrews appeared on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, finishing third despite being ripped by the View’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck for her outfits. Her credibility as a reporter was also called into question by two female writers, an offense to be taken both professionally and personally.

Andrews, has become the most popular sideline reporter on ESPN and has a great deal of fans. Some may credit this to her good looks, considering her photo shoot for Gentleman’s Quarterly and having been named Playboy’s Sexiest Sportscaster for the past two years, but few people may recognize the amount of prep work she does covering football and basketball. Andrews is a sportscaster, but unlike many she’s not there to break down a zone blitz or a one three one defense. She is there to get the personal side of the story. She gathers injury reports on the athletes and talks to coaches at halftime or at the end of the game. Most sideline reporters are female anymore, and can tend to be looked at as eye candy during the game.  It bothers me that sideline reporters such as Erin Andrews do so much work but so often much of it is seen as unimportant to the game.

In the NFL, where reporters are limited by rules such as not being allowed to talk to players during the game or even go into the bench area, getting the personalities behind the game can be a difficult thing to do. The networks have to change the way sideline reporters are being used, lest they trivialize the hard work and quality that they have in reporters like Erin Andrews.