A lot has changed in the sports media landscape in the last decade. Gone are the days when we crowded around the tele-vision to watch highlights or even a game itself. Scores and the latest news about our beloved teams are available at the touch of a button on our smartphones, etc.
But one thing that has continually progressed positively is women entering the sports media business. Many women have made their mark in the sports industry. To put it into perspective, 56 per cent of women identify as sports fans but nearly all voices covering it are male. When you watch Sportsnet or TSN, you will now often see a women anchoring the desk. It wasn’t like that before.
When I was in the television program here at NAIT, I was the only girl in my class who was up for the sports position in our weekly rotation for NAIT Newswatch. It was sad to see that no other girls in my class took interest in covering sports or were prepared to just gave it a chance.
I was fortunate enough to have a men-tor in the industry who gave me some solid advice. But she wasn’t just any mentor, she was someone I looked up to. Although we were never able to meet face to face, the fact that she took the time out of her busy schedule to look at my stories and give me critical feedback is something I am truly grateful for and I hope more students have that opportunity as well.
If you watched Hockey Night in Canada before George Stroumboulopoulos took over (the good old days, if you will), you might remember Andi Petrillo. She was responsible for the iDesk and you would see her during intermissions, along with Ron MacLean and the panel. In that role, Andi became the first woman to serve on a full-time basis on HNIC.
She told me the story of how hard work and dedication got her to the position she is in today. Andi recently became the first woman in Canada to host a daily sports radio talk show (Leafs Lunch on TSN 1050). She started out volunteering at her local station covering sports – editing, writing and shooting her own stories while also hosting for Junior A hockey games on a weekly basis. Her hard work soon earned her a position as a reporter for the Toronto Maple Leafs; again, the first female reporter to work for the team.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for her when she first started out. People didn’t care about the hard work she was doing but judged her because of her gender. Some reporters felt she was flirting when she was seen talking to a player, when truthfully, like any reporter, she wanted to get a good story out at the end of the day. She ignored all that and focused on her work.
By becoming the ‘first woman’ in many areas in sports, Andi has paved the way for many women in Canada to pursue their dreams in sports media. Ryerson University’s RTA School of Media announced the production of a first all-female sports broadcast. This means a new generation of female students will one day work in the sports media industry. Sports biggest media engine, ESPN, has recently launched the first ever sports radio talk show hosted by three women. Although the show will cover mainstream sports news, it is unique because it incorporates new and different stories about female athletes and women’s sports that nobody is talking about.
It’s important to talk about women thriving in sports. They bring something new to the table and a fresh perspective. It’s time to end the stigma and to encourage the women to do what they love and not be judged by their gender but by their ability.
Bridgette Tsang, Sports Editor