The Schnable Scoop

Column: I’m Not ‘Too Pretty’ to Write Sports, as One Campus Safety Officer Told Me

Abby Schnable | The PhoenixI watched Cardinals baseball, Blues Hockey, and the English Premier League with my family growing up, now as the assistant sports editor I enjoy covering all sports at Loyola.

Picture this: I’m sitting in a conference room in Loyola’s School of Communication minding my own business, working on an article for this week’s paper. Then, a Campus Safety officer comes in and asks if he can turn on the Cubs game. Of course I don’t mind. I love watching sports, even if it’s the Cubs.

“Yeah you probably don’t watch sports anyway,” he said to me.

I politely inform him it’s not a fair accusation to make and tell him of my job: assistant sports editor of The Phoenix. He then proceeds to look me up and down.

“You’re too pretty to write sports,” he said.

Sexism in sports journalism is a common issue I witness. Not necessarily by other journalists at The Phoenix — or at least not that I’ve witnessed — but sports journalism is generally a male dominated world. That doesn’t give anyone the right to belittle me, distrust my opinion or simply assume things about me just because I’m “pretty” or a woman.

There’s gender inequality in sports journalism and you can see it simply from the broadcasters on TV or by looking at sports staffs across the nation. The amount of women on a sports staff is only 14.6 percent, with only 9.6 percent of sports editors being women, according to an article in the Sports Business Journal.

The inequality doesn’t stop there. Not only are females as a whole underrepresented within sports journalism staff, but female sports reporters are often harassed simply for being female.

Bleacher Report has belittled females in sports journalism with its now deleted articles of “50 Hottest Female Sports Broadcasters from Around the World,” “20 Sexiest Sports Reporters of 2012,” “20 Sexiest Local Sports Broadcasters” and “40 Hottest College Football Reporters.”  

The sexist language around women in journalism is astounding. There has never been a “top 20” list of the hottest male sports broadcasters. But, simply because women have different anatomy, we have to deal with this.

Just because someone is a woman, she must fight to be heard among male sports journalists.

This is a problem not enough people are talking about. It’s an unfortunate stereotype women have to handle. Women shouldn’t have to deal with this behavior in our own career field. Women shouldn’t have to worry about going into sports journalism because it’s harder for women to get into the field.

Of course, women have made progress in the sports journalism world and I’m not discrediting that. ESPN’s Around the Horn had its first all-female panel in April 2016, and Meredith Vieira was the first woman to ever host the Olympics sports coverage in 2014.

The problem is it took so long to get to a place where this could happen.

Women used to be exempt from interviewing in the locker rooms, putting them at a disadvantage to men. Seeing their reputations increase and seeing more women covering sports is encouraging, but women are still held back. Women are still harrassed and taken less seriously just because of our gender.

The Phoenix does a good job of having women in sports. Five of the eleven writers are women. I, a woman, am the assistant sports editor. In the past five years there have been two other female sports editors — Madeline Kenney and Bridget Murphy — and I want that number to increase. Women should feel comfortable reporting on sports without worrying about disparities between men and women in the field.

Despite the progress women have made, we’re still facing adversity everywhere we turn and will continue to until the stereotype is addressed. 

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