Female broadcasters make their case in a sports world

Broadcast journalists such as Kelly Roche (RaptorsTV) look to conquer the male dominated profession of sports journalism.
Broadcast journalists such as Kelly Roche (RaptorsTV) look to conquer the male dominated profession of sports journalism.
photo by alison brownlee
Alison Brownlee
Sports Reporter

Female sportscasters are still fighting to be viewed professionally, said Humber television professor Joy Crysdale.

“My impression is that sports broadcasting is at the point for women that news and information broadcasting was at 20 years ago,” she said.

“In other words, it’s a frontier that women have to fight for.”

The Washington Post and Globe and Mail recently published stories addressing the challenges female sportscasters – like Sportsnet’s Martine Gaillard and ESPN’s Erin Andrews – face by being the subjects of Internet blogs and opinion polls that rank the sexiest “sports babes” and “sideline hotties.”

Second-year post-grad journalism student Kelly Roche said her goal is to be an on-air reporter.

“Basketball was always my first love,” she said.

Roche said being a woman may have helped her get an interview for a job in the industry, but it was her passion and expertise that got her an internship and, eventually, a contract position with RaptorsTV.

“Looks might get you through the door, but you have to prove yourself in the interview,” she said. “You can only fake it for so long.”

While gender may not be a deciding factor for employers when hiring women, it’s the male viewers who pose the greatest challenge to female sportscasters.

“Unfortunately, when you work in television, you’re judged for your looks first,” said Roche. “Women are subject to a little more scrutiny in the sports world.”

Humber grad Heather Cairns, now a web-editor for LeafsTV, said her passion got her the job, but her looks affected her potential spot in the industry.

“I wanted to do on-air,” she said. “But it’s my own personal feeling that they pushed me into producing because of my appearance.”

Judgment based on appearance seems to be something female sportscasters will have to surpass, said Cairns and Crysdale.

“Women who want positions in sports have a tougher fight to get on-air,” said Crysdale. “Be tough. Stand up and fight for what you want.”

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