I was sitting in the front seat of the soccer beat writer’s car as we drove to the Ambler Campus, chatting casually with him while trying to mask the butterflies in my stomach.
The butterflies were partly due to the fact that I was en route to covering my first game for The Temple News and partly due to the fact that we had just run through a red light.
The nerves remained throughout the game and player interviews, and my feelings of anxiety did not subside until I was back in my room.
The next week, I found myself in a nearly identical situation, complete with another red light debacle. However, this time, I was in the backseat, as another new sportswriter had volunteered to cover the game.
I listened in on the conversation between the two guys, noting a theme in topics: hometown, major, life at Temple. The same things we had talked about the week before. Then, my ears perked up. The beat writer was mentioning a sportswriting opportunity to the new writer.
My frustration with the situation wasn’t immediate, but after thinking about the interactions I had experienced, I came to the conclusion that this wasn’t fair. I wondered why the beat writer had not mentioned this opportunity to me even though I was a new writer with a passion for sports, just like this other guy.
This feeling of being passed over for a man despite possessing similar credentials continued throughout my four years of writing for the sports section of the Temple News.
Sportswriting seemed like a natural activity for me because it combined two things I love: sports and writing. I have been engaged in the world of sports for as long as I can remember. I started playing soccer when I was 6 years old and played nearly everything, from lacrosse to flag football to cross country and even basketball for the limited period of my life when I was tall for my age.
My two brothers also played sports, and in the summers, the three of us would play outside until the sun went down. The orange traffic cones in our backyard acted as goal posts, bases, hurdles and first-down markers.
When I wasn’t playing sports, I was probably watching them. Our TV was on from 1 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. every Sunday of the NFL season and for every Penguins game of the NHL playoffs. My passion for and submersion into the world of sports helped me learn about the games, rules, positions, players and nuances of the sports.
Despite my knowledge and background, as a female covering sports, I have not always been taken seriously. It feels as though there is an underlying assumption that I do not know or understand even basic information.
While attending a women’s basketball game with a male writer, there was a scuffle under the basket on the other end of the court and the ref called a technical foul. I could not tell if there had been a specific action that led to the call, so I asked the writer what he saw.
Instead of answering my question, he explained that a technical foul had been called and then began to define it. While my counterpart did not blatantly degrade me, it was frustrating that he assumed I did not understand the foul called.
The patronizing remarks that made me feel upset were not always intended to hurt. While excitedly preparing to cover my first Temple football game, I asked an editor what might be appropriate attire. He told me that he wasn’t sure, as he is not a “women’s fashion magazine.” While I believe the comment was meant in jest, it was hard for me to understand why it was OK for him to say that.
I know that my shy and sensitive disposition has affected my reactions to some of the interactions enumerated. And if these incidents had been isolated, I may have synthesized my experience differently. However, these were patterns, and because of these events, I felt frustrated.
But also because of these events, I have grown in many ways. I am more confident in my work and in my ability. I have confidence that, moving forward, when I am in a male-dominated environment, I will make sure my voice is heard. I will be assertive and fight for the opportunities I deserve.
And so my plea to sportswriters, particularly males, is to treat women in sports as your equals and offer that exciting sports writing job to all writers, regardless of your perception of their level of interest or sports knowledge. Oh, and for the love of God, stop at red lights.