While I was conducting research on the number of women working as play-by-play reporters for NFL games (the answer is zero), I came across the Bleacher Report headline below.
The 20 Sexiest Sports Reporters of 2012
Of course, 2012 wasn’t the only year that the Bleacher Report compiled a ranking such as this. See http://bleacherreport.com/articles/461071-ines-sainz-and-the-biggest-sex-symbol-sports-reporters
As a female fan of both the NFL and sports in general, I know I should not be surprised by articles like this. The media continually reinforces the notion that women should be judged for their beauty and bodies before their talent or skill. While this is a trend across all media, sports coverage seems to amplify this tendency even more. One of the most well-known and widely circulated sports magazines in this country dedicates an entire issue every year to models in bikinis. Most of the women photographed for this issue are not even athletes! In her post titled, “Our Issue with Swimsuits (or lack thereof) In Sports Illustrated”, Lexie Kite outlines the problematic nature of this annual event.
While the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated is a deplorable excuse for sports reporting, I find the Bleacher Report article to be upsetting in a different way. The fact that female sports reporters are the target of the latest media objectification is especially regrettable. These women have worked hard to make careers in sports reporting, covering the games and stories that captivate so many American fans. They have undoubtedly overcome tremendous barriers to not only do their jobs, but perform at an extremely high level.
For this reason, it is disgraceful that a fellow sports news outlet feels the need to judge these women solely on their looks rather than on their talent or success. It is disappointing that despite all of the progress that female sports reporters have made in the last 40 or so years, we are continuing to objectify them and appreciate them only for their attractiveness to heterosexual men. The reality is that until we start to value the work that these women are doing professionally, instead of rating them based on their sex appeal, women will continue to be seen as foreigners in the realm of sports.