Revolutionizing Narratives: Women in Sports Journalism

How women carve out space for different voices in sports broadcasting 

Kirsten Wiltshire (She/Her) // Crew Writer
Anaïs Bayle (She/Her) // Illustrator 

Jeannie Morris was a trailblazer in the sports world. Starting as a columnist in the 1960’s for Chicago’s American, she worked her way into broadcasting, overcoming barriers along the way. In the early 1970’s she was barred from entering the Metropolitan Stadium press box because of her gender. She infamously reported a baseball game from outside, weathering a Minnesota blizzard. Morris is just one of several women who pioneered the role of female sports reporters. 

Like all corners of the professional sports world, sports journalism has been largely dominated by men. The Institute for Ethics and Diversity in Sport published a Racial and Gender report card in 2021 outlining the make-up of Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE). It found that although female representation has risen it’s still abysmally low, only 14.4 per cent of sports reporters are women (77 per cent of whom are white women). The report gave APSE a failing grade in its gender hiring practices. 

Women were and still are in some cases relegated to the role of ‘eye-candy,’ diminishing their skill and expertise in the field. They face disproportionate levels of online harassment and abuse and have to fight harder than most to legitimize their role in the industry. 

With the rise in popularity of women’s professional sports leagues such as the National Women’s Soccer League, the longstanding Women’s National Basketball Association and the newly formed Professional Women’s Hockey League there comes a shift in the narrative around the sport. 

As sports media’s coverage of women competing on national and international stages for more than World Cups and Olympic tournaments grows, it solidifies what many already know, but are waiting for the others to catch up; women belong in sport. Not only in performance and play, but in positions that analyze, report on and commentate on the competition. 

Julie DiCaro has been actively speaking out against the rampant mistreatment of women in sports, shining a light on the disparity in treatment women face. Reporters like Cari Champion, Doris Burke and Kate Beirness have made major contributions to the industry, solidifying their place in sports journalism. While the inequality within the sport and the barriers to entry may still stand, women continue to create space for themselves and one another as professional sports expand its reach.  

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