It’s no surprise that men hold a dominant position in the world of sports. They’re seen in charge of everything from the faces of broadcasting, writing or even owning sports teams. . A Woman’s opportunity to obtain a job and be recognized in the sports business continues to increase, making the field less male-dominated. It’s a symbol of growth and it’s not just perception. It’s reality.
The increased interest in hiring women is reflected in some sports-related industries, but not all. In sports media, the record is mixed. The Association for Women in Sports Media reported that in 1991, fewer than 50 women were working as sportscasters out of 630 affiliate stations, according to USA Today.
Three major networks and nine cable networks employed 127 women in on-air sports positions in 2003. At newspapers nationwide, the percentage of women in sports departments rose from 6 percent in 1991 to 13 percent in 2001, according to the Associated Press Sports Editors Association.
According to Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration program, ESPN currently has 48 female anchors, analysts, reporters and contributors. There has also been an increase in female sports journalists since 2010 from 10.6 percent in 2010 to 12.7 percent in 2014. The world of sports business is in for quite a turnaround in a stereotypically male-dominated industry.
A female sports reporter in the industry may be a something tough to cope with for a conservative sports-consuming audience, but for Newsday’s Laura Albanese, that doesn’t stop her from doing what she loves. Albanese has covered the New York Yankees, Mets, Islanders, Brooklyn Nets and even horse racing.
“I’ve always been a huge sports fan,” Albanese said. “I’ve been into sports my entire life.”
She has dealt with harsh criticism in her career from mostly male critics on Twitter and in person. To limit the criticism and trash talk, Albanese puts her knowledge of sports on full display.
She also remarked that not playing the sport doesn’t make you less qualified for being a reporter. “I’m not really a confrontational person,” she said. “It’s not my personality. If you’re a female, you have to prove to males you know what you are talking about.”
There is a misconception that women are not interested in sports. However, the number of female athletes continues to grow, and half of the fans of major league sports are women.
Another study conducted by Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration program in 2014 showed that women were 47 percent of major league baseball’s (MLB) fanbase. They also account for 45 percent of the National Football League’s (NFL) fanbase and 40 percent of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA).
Women are gaining momentum in the sports field, but men currently dominate the sports administrative roles. As of 2013, only 28 of 713 certified sports agents in the NFL are women. In Major League Baseball, it’s six out of 400, and six of 375 in the National Basketball Association.
Women are a growing fan base and the industry is responding to the trend, according to the Huffington Post. Jean Afterman is the Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the New York Yankees. The New York Yankees sell more women’s apparel than any other merchandise in its shops mainly because of the rapid growth of female sports fans Afterman noted. People see more advertisements on television and in print for the NFL Shop’s merchandise geared towards women.
Michaela Christman is a student at Stony Brook University who works with the university’s Athletic Department. She is surrounded by women when she is at work.
“My on-campus job at Stony Brook’s Department of Athletic Communications has a lot of women, and at times, all women, especially on the team I work with,” Christman said. “Sometimes when we’re working to produce America East TV games I look around and realize that I’m working with four other women.”
She also said that it’s great that there are more women in sports.“It just helps pave the way for more women to feel comfortable working in the industry,” she said. “I think more women are starting to go into the sports industry because they see other women doing it, and they feel more confident to do so.”
Women who have played a sport in the past, especially those who excelled at it, have taken jobs in the sports field. Former American softball star Jessica Mendoza was named a permanent fixture of Sunday Night Baseball in January 2016 according to Deadspin. She became the first woman to ever call a prime-time MLB game. It took place in September of 2015 when she filled in for former MLB analyst Curt Schilling on a Sunday night broadcast. Later that fall, Mendoza called an American League Wild Card game, making her the first woman analyst to call an MLB postseason game.
“I realize that anything out of my mouth, people are going to listen a little more,” Mendoza said to the Washington Post. “What’s helped is once the game began, it was just baseball, and not a female broadcasting baseball. I was like, ‘I can do this.’ I just honed in on it, and all the other stuff went away.”
The San Antonio Spurs hired six-time Women’s National Basketball Association All-Star Becky Hammon as an assistant coach in August of 2015. Hammon had been observing team meetings for the Spurs when head coach Gregg Popovich decided to take her on as an assistant, making her the first female coach in the NBA.
The Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter as an inside linebacker coach in July of 2015. Welter was the first woman ever to coach in the NFL. However, her position was only temporary and she was considered a coaching intern but she felt she did all she could. “I cared as much about them [Arizona Cardinals] as people as I did about them as players, and I actually really know football,” Welter said.
Albanese said that this era of women in the sports business will continue down the road. “I don’t think it’s a random wave of women getting involved in sports,” she said. “There’s been a slow shift in our thinking, and it’s become more acceptable for women to be involved in this field. We have more rights than we’ve ever had in history, and with it, comes the freedom to pursue traditionally male careers.”
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