The disrespect that many female reporters in the sports industry receive is more prevalent than many people realize.
In an article published by Sports Illustrated, reporter Richard Deitsch interviewed female reporters from across the country to paint a picture of the type of harassment women endure.
Deitsch’s piece gave women a voice when they couldn’t be heard. His piece was written in 2015 but was re-published this November, in light of recent events, with added anecdotes.
On Oct. 4, 2017, Cam Newton insulted sports reporter Jourdan Rodrigue on her knowledge of football after she asked an intelligent question during a press conference following a game.
“It's funny to hear a female talk about routes like that," Cam Newton, quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, said. "It's funny."
Female reporters described harassment not only with athletes, but also with coaches and team executives. The women discussed how starting a lawsuit could potentially lose them important contacts and hurt their reputations.
Jenny Vrentas, a reporter for Sports Illustrated, said that Newton should have been held to a higher standard because he was considered to be a part of a different generation of athletes -- a generation where female writers are no longer strangers to the locker rooms.
As a sports reporter and the female sports editor of The Collegian, it makes me think twice about what my future might hold. I want to be respected because of my knowledge and love of sports -- including my knowledge of routes.
After seeing Newton play two weekends ago, I was reminded of the way in which he not only disrespected Rodrigue, but all female sports reporters, including myself.
I want to become someone who portrays sports in a positive light, but with the biases and stereotypes Newton projected on female reporters, it has become hard for me to respect an otherwise fantastic player.
This problem isn’t just isolated to football. Women reporters have faced these stigmas in baseball, basketball, hockey and every sport in between.
Newton just happened to magnify on a national scale the way women are treated in sports.
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What we have to ask ourselves is this: would Newton have complimented a male reporter on his knowledge of routes? The answer to that question is no, and this is the root of this problem.
"It was a lesson learned for me this whole week,'' Newton said. "My sarcasm trying to give somebody kind of a compliment turned in ways I never would have even imagined."
Newton was prompted to make this apology. After the incident, Newton lost his Dannon endorsement, but aside from that, he received no punishment from his team or the league.
Perhaps even more disappointing is the lack of support Rodrigue received from her male colleagues, none of whom spoke up in her defense. The men in the sports industry should defend their female colleagues, especially since women face so many more disadvantages within the industry because of their gender.
Comments like these shouldn’t be tolerated in journalism.
Every time a sexist comment is made and male reporters turn a blind eye or laugh, they are fueling the fire that is pulling female journalists down, perpetuating a culture of sexism.
Professional athletes are respected because of their talent on the field, but they should be regarded as leaders based on how they treat other people off the field. Women reporters won’t be leaving the locker room any time soon.
Contact sports editor Lindsay Emery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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