Over the past decade, there has been increasing outrage over how little media coverage female athletes receive as opposed to male athletes.
One study conducted by Purdue University even revealed that female pro athletes only received 5.4% of all televised airtime in 2019– a figure that has virtually remained unchanged since 1989.
And while there is no disputing that female athletes deserve more media coverage, there is another side of the same coin to consider. I’m talking about the pathetically low number of women working in sports broadcasting.
According to Zippia, 38.4% of all professional athletes in the United States are women. At the same time, though, only 23% of all sportscasters in the country were women in 2019– a figure that is less than 1% higher than in 2010.
Network sports television actually took to air during the mid-1940s, but it was not until 1974 that former Miss America winner Phyllis George became one of the first women to obtain a significant role in sportscasting.
She joined The NFL Today cast alongside Jimmy Snyder, Irv Cross, and Brent Musberger before later moving into a permanent anchor role for CBS Morning News.
Still, the fact that a woman was reporting on sports was a novelty back then– and one that many people dubbed an attempt at televising “eye candy” more than anything.
People just did not think that women could properly report on sports– especially male sports, which take up the vast majority of air time. So, female sportscasters were a dime a dozen and coveted mostly for their appearance rather than their journalistic contributions.
Obviously, though, female sportscasters had and still have much more to offer, and it was not until the 1980s when the “boys’ club” of sports newsrooms began to witness women breaking in.