Until the mid to late 1940s, sports television was a male-dominated field, and some might even argue, that it still is.
Then, it was considered outrageous that a woman was able to report on sports and continued to be viewed this way until the 1980s. It was then that females held more “prominent roles.”
Jane Chastain, one of the pioneers in female sportscasting began working for CBS in the 60’s, delivering play-by-play content. She was the first woman to work at a large network as a sportscaster and “thought to be the first woman to do play-by-play,” as well.
Another pioneer in female sportscasting was Jeannie Morris. As an avid writer and journalist, Morris had no problem securing a job within sports; but her treatment within the industry lacked support and equality from/with her male counterparts. More specifically, when she was tasked with covering a Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears game at Metropolitan Stadium in Minnesota, she was not given access to the press box, solely because she was a woman.
Despite all odds, Morris still reported the game from above the press box in a blizzard. As a mother of four and wife of an NFL receiver, Morris continued to be unfazed by the disrespect she received.
"Intimidated by people I covered? I think after being the wife of an NFL player for 10 years before I started working, I knew that all these guys were among the most insecure people in the world,'' said Morris, 78. "And I was just naturally curious.''
As time went on, more and more women were beginning to be accepted as sportscasters. Gayle Gardner was another who worked hard and persevered to reach new heights in the workplace. “She was the first female sports anchor to appear weekly on a major network.”
"No one is going to just hand you a job," said Gardner. "For women especially, this profession will never stop being a struggle with constant blows which must be taken."
Around the 1980s, when women’s participation became more prevalent, several former athletes switched from playing to reporting on sports. College athletes Robin Roberts, Ann Meyers, and Donna de Varona were given opportunities to become sportscasters like several ex-male athletes.
Today, there are several female sportscasters that are known amongst the masses, such as, Erin Andrews, Doris Burke, Sage Steele, Cari Champion, Robin Roberts, and Pam Oliver.
With the progression of women in sports come some downfalls as well. For example, in an article, sideline reporter Erin Andrews mentions that her reporting is altogether disregarded at times as people ask non-related questions like “who is she dating,” “what is she wearing,” etc.
While some sports spectators look at female sportscasters as only "eye candy," it is crucial that they are viewed as spectators of a sport that have valued opinions.
Former voice of the Chicago Cubs, Jack Brickhouse said, "women have another dimension that men cannot give. They can give a female's insight into women athletes in swimming, golf, basketball, tennis, etc. How does a man know what problems a woman would have in a particular sport?”