Oh dear Christ, now they’re in the broadcasting booth


So y’all, this weekend, it warmed the cockles of my little feminist heart to go channel-surfing and hear a woman’s voice analyzing the Sunday night baseball game between the L.A. Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves. Michele Smith, Olympic gold medalist and denizen of the Softball Hall-of-Fame was featured along with the typical Two-Dude Lineup on TBS.
Since my preferred team routinely has utter garbage seasons I tend to be a baseball dabbler until post-season. However, I watched that whole game, just because I was so excited as both a huge sports fan and a huge feminist.

That was awesome, but I waited to post anything about it because I wanted to wait for the general public to react. Nothing to show you where the work needs doing than a jaunt through an online comment section, amirite? Many of the responses were predictable – “why is she talking?! she played a ladysport! and has ladybits! why isn’t she commenting on a chick flick marathon after a nice afternoon of making me sandwiches and going to the mall?!”

I frankly don’t have time to waste on that shit. The comments that really bothered me were actually largely supportive of Smith herself. However, they still found a way to slam women in sports coverage. Up till now, the female presence in a sports broadcast tended to be limited to one well-coiffed, heavily made-up slender white woman conforming to the narrowest of  beauty standards. In a roughly ten-minute spot, they would do a single on-field interview or comment spot based on a previously performed on-field interview.

When it came to Smith, this comment was relatively indicative of the general attitude toward those women: “If she’s competent, I have no problem with it. IF it’s done as a Fox News Blonde of the Week Who Doesn’t Know Shit But Sure Looks Good, count me out.”

To put it crudely, gentlemen, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Tokenism sucks, sure, and in this case did lead to an awful lot of inane questions. But let’s not forget, these women weren’t put on air to “know shit,” they were put on air to be pretty women. That’s not their fault, and many of them have made that spot their own, using it to do what they couldn’t do any other way – report on the damn games.

And let’s face it, apparently it takes not one, but two Olympic gold medals before a TV network thinks a woman might know enough to be guiding viewers through a game. How many equivalent honors do you think Smith’s dudely counterparts have? Go look it up, I’ll wait.

You want to see more competent women on air? Don’t hate the women given exactly one route to on-air sports coverage.  Blame the networks for giving women such a narrow box to fill that only one exceptionally qualified woman has escaped it. And let TBS know you want to see more of Michele Smith. I know I did.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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