Sports Commentary Should Not Just Be a Boys’ Club

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Sports Commentary Should Not Just Be a Boys’ Club

By Maya Rosenberg, Public Relations Editor

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Softball player and two time Olympic medalist Jessica Mendoza made sports journalism history Oct. 6 as she was the first woman to join national coverage of a Major League Baseball (MLB) post-season game. She also made headlines this year for being the first woman to join a national broadcast for regular season games.

While Mendoza has made an amazing stride for women in sports journalism, it is imperative that more women are able to join national coverage of male dominated sports, and vice versa. Sex should not determine if someone is qualified to do their job.

Mendoza was faced with unwarranted sexist outlash over the Internet. There were multiple complaints that Mendoza didn’t know what she was talking about and was ruining the game simply because she is a woman.

According to a 2015 Time article about women’s representation in the media, the percentage of women in sports journalism dropped from 17-10 percent last year. As Mendoza was the first woman to call play by play action for a postseason game, she broke down many barriers for women and is helping women to strive toward equality in male dominated sports.

But she was also faced with unwarranted sexist reactions over the internet. There were multiple complaints that Mendoza didn’t know what she was talking about, and was ruining the game simply because she is a woman.

A large part of the criticism toward Mendoza was because she had never played baseball, she could not fully comprehend it and analyze it as well as her male counterparts who had. While softball is a very similar sport, it is not the same thing as baseball. But there has been a male commentator who has not played baseball, and has become legendary in his broadcasts for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Vin Scully, who has reported play by play coverage for the Dodgers since 1950, never played professional baseball. He played a single season as a senior at Fordham University, but he never stepped up to bat or make a play in an MLB game. Yet, he is lauded as “the voice of the Dodgers” and as legendary figure in baseball. His career has spanned over 66 years and he has been with the Dodgers since they were located in New York.

But what if he was a woman? There would be no way for Scully to have the illustrious career that he has had. There would be too much controversy that he has never played a game, and therefore does not know what he is talking about.

A major component in the controversy against Mendoza has been that she is unknowledgable about baseball, but she knows how to analyze America’s pasttime and has the skill set needed. The MLB wouldn’t have put her in the booth if she wasn’t able to do her job.

The criticism against Mendoza and other female commentators such as Erin Andrew is a product of institutionalized sexism in the sport journalism world.

In an online poll taken amongst Churchill students, 80 percent of the students believe that women should be able to commentate on men’s sports while 88 percent believe that men should be able to commentate on women’s sports.

More people believe that men know more than women about athletics. It’s a pointless double standard that trumps the value of merit.

Women are not ruining sports, nor are they trying to be cute with their knowledge of them. Women are here to stay. Let’s play ball.