I can live with a 73-year-old man momentarily “losing it” over a former Miss Alabama, who was in the stands watching the game with McCarron’s family.
“You quarterbacks, you get all the good looking women. What a beautiful woman. Wow!” Musburger gushed.
He should have stopped there. Because what he said next — his advice to young males — made headlines the next day and juicy on-line fodder.
“So if you’re a youngster at Alabama start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with Pop.”
ESPN executives, to their credit, apologized the next day, stating: “. . . the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that.”
Brent clearly doesn’t understand that.
Just to show what he he thinks of those wimpy, politically-correct ESPN executives, Musburger signed off his very next broadcast with a jaw-dropping comment on how his ESPN colleague and sideline reporter Holly Rowe “… was really smokin’ tonight.”
Entertainers or Reporters?
With a proliferation of busty, blonde, tightly-clad, female microphone holders masquerading these days as sports reporters — laughing off the inevitable leers and degrading “pranks” — it’s no wonder a dinosaur such as Musburger feels entitled to publicly comment on the physical attributes of women in his gaze.
Ah yes, one more skirmish, one more hurdle to clear in the nearly four decades-long marathon female journalists have been enduring to be taken seriously and considered equally for opportunities to cover sports.
Despite their increasing numbers, even the the most skilled, female sports broadcasters are usually limited to brief, sideline updates and interviews with coaches during games, while their innumerable male peers are on the air for hours . . . and hours.
I’m all too familiar with this terrain.
As one of the first women on-air sports reporters and anchors in the country, working for CBS-TV Detroit (BIG sports town!) from 1978-1984, I spent five years on these front lines, including helping to open sports locker rooms.
That’s why HuffPostLive recently invited me to join a conversation on how women are progressing in what may be one of our last professional frontiers.
Not only was it a fascinating, timely discussion, I was in great company. Ross Greenburg, former president of HBO Sports, a long-time mentor, sponsor and advocate of talented women sports broadcasters; Jordan Schultz, Huffington Post sports columnist; James Andrew Miller, co-author of ‘Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN” also joined the discussion with interviewer Alicia Mendez.
Broadcast Booths — Still the Most Exclusive Sports Locker rooms
Greenburg, Schultz and Miller all made great points on why it’s long past time to close the chapter on women sports reporters/entertainers as sideline eye candy and open the broadcast booth to the growing numbers of talented, skilled female commentators ready and itching for prime time.
To move this cultural needle, we need more men like them weighing in on this topic and the Musburgers of the world sticking to analyzing games.
Oh yes, and fewer TV executives letting their loins guide their on-air hiring — case in point: the object of Musburger’s attention has just landed a “correspondent” gig for ”Inside Edition’s” upcoming Super Bowl coverage.
So how far have women come in cracking sports broadcasting?
No question, we’ve come a long way from my very lonely days covering professional and college sports in the late ’70s and ’80s.
The locker room issue is history.
There are growing numbers of talented, seasoned women broadcasters covering sports, including New York Yankees broadcaster Suzyn Waldman, USA Today columnist and on-air commentator Christine Brennan, ESPN’s Pam Ward, Fox Sports’ Lisa Salters, athlete and NBC tennis commentator Mary Carillo, Fox Detroit’s Jennifer Hammond, and more!
But I’m dismayed at the disproportionate number of female “personalities” being hired for coveted, on-air sports jobs primarily for the viewing pleausure of male fans. No wonder they’re thrilled to be featured, displaying their “credentials,” in the annual lists of “Hottest Women in Sports Broadcasting.”
TV is a visual medium that favors the fair of face — particularly when it comes to women. But there are two things wrong with the present state of affairs.
First, credentialed, skilled female broadcasters are competing for air-time with “smokin hot” babes. How long would Brent Musburger last if his contract depended on his ability to attract female viewers, measured against the likes of Ryan Gosling?
Second, sports crazy young girls are getting powerful messages that beauty queen titles and tight pants may be hotter tickets to careers in sports than athletic scholarships or college degrees.
Sports is No Longer The Exclusive Territory of Men
Thanks to Title IX, girls and women have been playing competitive sports for decades…. from grade school soccer to college scholarships and professional careers. At the 2012 London Olympics, U.S. women won 63% of America’s gold medals.
Look in the stands at any sporting event. They’re packed with women fans who are passionate about their teams and huge consumers of tickets and branded clothing.
I don’t know about you, but as a sports fan, I’m tired of hearing only the guys broadcasting, analyzing and commenting on games. Let’s hear the perspective of the other half of the human race, who know, care about and often have different insights on sports than men — just as we do in business, politics and life in general.
Alicia Menendez wrapped up the HuffPostLive interview up by asking me, “Anne, when will we know women have finally arrived in sports?”
My spur-of-the-moment response was OK, but here’s what I wish I’d said:
We’ll know women have arrived in sports broadcasting when:
. . . It’s no longer the exception but commonplace to see women holding every job in the business, from play-by-play announcers and analysts to in-studio hosts and commentators, insightful reporters covering big stories and, yes, powerful sports executives making the decisions on what’s covered and who is hired.
. . . And being a member of your college dance team, cheerleading squad or simply “smoking hot” are no longer a credential for cracking the most exclusive sports locker rooms: broadcast booths.
Read more at Forbes where this story was originally published.