It’s a good thing I take pride in being a hard worker. It’s a good thing that I don’t mind putting in every second of my free time to make sure that my job is done correctly. For a female who wants to work in sports, there is no other option.
Damon Bruce made that very clear when he went on the air in San Francisco and said, among other things, that there are very few women working as sports journalists who are any good at it.
Sure, there are a few men in the field who wrote great pieces defending the women who work in the industry, but if you think Bruce’s feelings are held only by him, your naivety amazes me.
There is always a skepticism about the quality of work women do in the sports field. We didn’t play, so we don’t know.
When I’m working on a story, I don’t just double- and triple-check facts, I check terminology to make sure I’m using it right. The thing is, 99 times out of 100, I’m correct.
I know that I understand sports, but I have seen too many women get bashed by sports fans for the most trivial mistakes. I know the things I say or write are being judged harshly because a lot of male sports fans like to point out that they know more than women.
I’ve been lucky. Of all the assignments I’ve done for The Arkansas Traveler, only one received a negative comment and the comment didn’t even address my sports knowledge.
However, I still worry every time I have a column printed. I am always confident in my opinions because I do the research necessary to form a belief that I can back up with facts and observations.
But I still worry. I know if I word something incorrectly and make myself sound at all like an outsider, that is how I’m going to be treated.
Most people will see a mistake and stop reading. As a female, I’m not going to get the benefit of the doubt that most men do.
The reaction by a lot of people to this article is going to be that I need to stop whining and deal with it. And I’m okay with that. I don’t mind putting in more work than my male counterparts. I don’t mind being told I’m wrong.
The last time someone made it clear to me that I wasn’t very good at what I was doing and pointed out someone who was much better at it than I was, I put my nose to the grindstone and ended up making a 5 on the AP English Language and Composition Exam. Needless to say, I did better than the person who was supposed to be so much better than I was.
I would imagine most women working in sports now have the same attitude. They have thick skin and don’t let the naysayers get to them. It just makes them better at what they do.
But what do we do about all the women who just don’t want to deal with being told why they aren’t good enough every day? How many great female sports voices aren’t being heard because they are constantly told that they don’t belong?
All sports journalists should be judged on their knowledge of the sport they cover and on their journalistic abilities. Gender should be no more a part of the discussion than race or hair color.