I was disappointed in a recent article in B&C (Broadcasting and Cable) magazine. In the July 11, 2011 issue, the feature article was “Women in the Game” (pp. 8-16). The message of the article was that “the TV sports business is hardly an old boys’ network. Meet the women making big plays behind the scenes.”
That is exactly what the article chronicles – women behind the scenes. It includes highlights about the careers of:
Karen Brodkin – Senior VP, Business and Legal Affairs – Fox Cable Networks
April Carty-Sipp – Senior VP, Creative Services – Comcast Sports Group
Teresa Chillianis – General Manager – Cablevision MSG Varsity
Christine Godleski– COO – WNBA
Debra Honkus – CEO – NEP Broadcasting
Jodi Markley – Senior VP, Operations – ESPN
Lorie McCarthy – Senior VP, General Sales Manager – Turner Sports
Deborah Montiel – VP, Marketing – GolTV
Rebecca Schulte – Senior VP and General Manager – Comcast Mid-Atlantic
Suzanne Smith – Producer/Director – CBS Sports
Molly Solomon – Coordinating Producer – NBC Olympics and Talent Development
Melinda Witmer – Executive VP and Chief Video and Content Officer – Time Warner Cable
I am thrilled at these stories. I am elated that these women have broken the glass ceiling in one of the most difficult business contexts that exists in the world.
But, why not include women in front of the scene? For years, women have filled the role of sideline reporters. But, now look at Pam Ward, who calls play-by-play for college football and basketball for ESPN. Or Doris Burke, who is a prime analyst for men and women contents in college basketball for ESPN and ABC. There are others. I can’t include them all. But, on the sidelines we have seen Pam Oliver for FOX, Andrea Kremer for NBC, Lesley Visser for CBS and ABC, Suzy Kolber and Michele Tofoya for ESPN, among many others.
The one that I am the proudest of is Erin Andrews from ESPN. She has remained resilient in the face of an awful, invading peephole video expose by a cowardly stalker, shot through a keyhole of her hotel room. In spite of the negative publicity and occasional “cat-calls” from fans in the stands, she has continued to do her job. She covers football, baseball, basketball, and other sports, and has not flinched from any of the pressure created by the negative incident. She asks tough questions and seeks out stories. She even now hosts a weekly college football show with Andre Ware that airs on ESPN, and is featured on College Game Day every Saturday morning.
I refuse to watch the peephole video. It is widely available on the internet for free. Not that she isn’t attractive – she’s actually beautiful. I just think that if she wants to show us her body, she should be the one who decides to do it. The uninvited and imposing stalker who invaded her privacy has no right to show us anything about Erin Andrews that Erin Andrews does not want us to see. Make no mistake – I will look at her if she makes herself available. But, notice that in that case, she would have decided to feature herself. That’s the only way that I am going to participate as a viewer.
But, Erin Andrews is not about looks. She does her job. She does it well. There are other women who do this work well. We should see more articles about “Women in the Game” who are in front of the scene, not just behind it.
In September at the First Friday Book Synopsis, I will feature a book about ESPN. It is called These Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN. It’s not all about guys, and I will have some content from Erin Andrews. I hope that someday soon she will write her own book.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it.
With the flurry of collegiate bowl games and the onset of professional football playoffs, my attention today turns away from business to sports.
Sports has long been a popular arena for writers, including from those who cover the various events, as well as those who coach and play it. Sports has also been an increasingly popular source for business analogies – “you hit a home run,’ “that presentation was a hole-in-one,” “it was a slam-dunk in there today,” and so forth.
If you were to ask me what my all-time favorite sports book is, it would not take very long to get you an answer. My choice is Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer (Doubleday, 1968). In that book, the former offensive guard for the Packers revealed in-depth and behind-the-scenes information about life with legendary coach Vince Lombardi. Of interest to Dallas Cowboys fans is the revelation that he believed he may have been offsides on the famous goal-line plunge by quarterback Bart Starr that gave the Packers a last-minute victory in the famed 1967 Ice Bowl. How we have wished that they could have been pushed back five yards!
The book was republished in 2006, and that edition is still available on Amazon.com. But, for me, I read the book as a teenager, and I remember many parts of it vividly.
One other note about this book: like many works that athletes authored, this one was “as told to,” and the target was Dick Schapp. He was one of the great sports writers and interviewers of modern times. Even the unpredictable and volatile basketball coaching legend Bobby Knight admired him. Sports fans throughout the the world miss him.
That’s my vote. What about you?