I went to the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) men’s basketball media day Oct. 16. There were 30-plus attendees, composed of beat writers, student journalists, sports information directors and coaches. I was the only woman in attendance.
There are 10 teams in the MVC men’s basketball conference. 10 teams and not a single woman journalist in attendance other than myself. As far as I know I’m also the only woman beat writer in the MVC. Last year, I had Missouri State University’s Amanda Sullivan join me. This year, I’m alone.
I’m not here to beat a dead horse. Being a woman in sports is one of the most isolating, but also one of the most supportive things I’ve been a part of. There are times where I feel so oppressed because I’m a woman, but I also know I’m not alone. Being a woman in sports has given me a community of women that I know has my back.
Journalism is one of the most competitive markets out there. Now consider sports journalism, arguably more competitive, and then being a woman in sports. It’s toxic.
I find myself comparing myself to all my counterparts — women, men, news writers, sports writers. How do I compare to those people?
Here’s the thing, I’m a good journalist. I’m a successful journalist. So, why do I get so upset when I don’t get called for a supposed MVC beat writer podcast? I don’t know if it’s because I’m a woman or because I’m a student journalist, but I get left out of consideration often and I usually associate it with the fact that I’m a woman.
It’s not unknown that women are taken less seriously than men in sports. In sports media, sports marketing or even on the actual sports teams, women tend to be viewed as less than their male counterparts.
When I took sports law my junior year, I took on the topic of women’s pay inequality within sports for my research paper. My main focus was on the United States Women’s National Soccer Team and their lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation.
But let me offer you a more recent example.
Lebron James just won his fourth NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s been in the NBA for 17 seasons and in 2020 was paid $37.44 million. His bonus for winning the 2020 Finals was $370,000.
Sue Bird won her fourth WNBA Championship with the Seattle Storm in the WNBA this year. She’s been in the WNBA for 17 seasons and in 2020 was paid $215,000. Her bonus for winning the 2020 Finals was $11,356.
Ima sit this right here ! Yup look pic.twitter.com/1K6I8jNRcW— ひ Erica Wheeler ひ (@EWeezy_For3eezy) October 16, 2020
See the issue?
I’ve been watching sports since I was a child. I’ve been covering sports since high school. I love sports. I love writing about sports, but I’ve grown to hate being a sports journalist.
Not only do I have the typical struggles of being a journalist — low pay, long hours, virtually no breaks — but I also have to deal with sexist comments, worrying if my outfit is too revealing or if I’m talking too much.
I’ve decided to go into sports law after I graduate. I’m going to continue to write because I love it, but I won’t be a sports journalist for long.
I’m sick of writing about women’s inequality in sports, so I’m going to law school so I can fight to change the gender inequality in sports.
I’m just one person though, it takes a lot more than that to make a change. This is my call to action for you all. Step up. Be better. Support women in sports.