Sports-When Progress and Misogyny Collide


Last night ESPN took a step forward in their coverage of men’s sports. For their coverage of the BYU-Gonzaga game, the sports network used two female commentators. Commentator Beth Mowins handled the play-by-play duties while Kara Lawson handled the color analyst.

Now these two women are not new to sports coverage. Mowins played basketball in college for Lafayette and started her career as a news and sports director in 1991. Though she typically covers women’s sports, she has covered college football games for ESPN since 2005.

Lawson played basketball in college for Tennessee and is a current WNBA player. During the off-season she works as a commentator for men’s and women’s college basketball, and the Sacramento Kings. She became the first woman to work as a nationwide broadcast analyst for an NBA game on January 12, 2007.

Needless to say these are not fly-by-night females who do not know basketball. Both have played and studied the sport and are very knowledgeable about the game. Despite this fact, many disgruntled fans took to Twitter to air the grievances with ESPN’s use of the two female broadcasters. A search for BYU-Gonzaga comes up with some of the most sexist garbage (courtesy of Deadspin):

2 girls commenting a men’s game… KYS ESPN!

— Zach Watson (@Watson321Zach) January 26, 2014

One girl is bad enough as an announcer. But two of them for the same game. C ya

— D-ROCK #TeamNba (@rimjoblessman) January 26, 2014

Is this a woman’s game @ESPNCBB ? Why do we have two female announcers? #BYUatGU

— Jordan Hodges (@JT4America) January 26, 2014

@espn really must hate Gonzaga.. Two woman announcers? Come on now.. #eastcoastbias #GoZags

— Nick Fullmer (@kobedomslebron) January 26, 2014

Won’t be watching the BYU game because there’s 2 women announcers and I can’t deal with women announcers lol

— Joey Brinkley (@joeybrinkley23) January 26, 2014

I’m watching byu game on mute thanks to espn having two women announcers!!! ahhhh!!!!

— Jeffrey Cordon (@jeff_cordon) January 26, 2014

Two women announcers in a men’s basketball game? How about no. #mute

— DJ Byrdman (@Byrdman4811) January 26, 2014

Two women announcers for the Gonzaga vs BYU game….. ���� just stop

— R Lee III (@BIG_Rob44) January 26, 2014

@jsjohnson78 @itschappy I hate all women announcers.

— Scott (@dodgerjazzcougs) January 26, 2014

I’m not sexist, but 2 women DO NOT need to be calling this men’s game @espn #byu #gonzaga

— Brad Thomas (@bradley_t4) January 26, 2014

Why the hell are two women calling the BYU-Gonzaga game? C’mon ESPN.

— Trent Meier (@trenticulrcancr) January 26, 2014

Wait…. There are two women calling the BYU vs Gonzaga game on espn 2… I’ve lost all hope

— Jason Garretson (@JasonGarretson) January 26, 2014

Both the play by play and color commentator on ESPN for the Gonzaga/BYU game are women. Way to ruin a good basketball game ESPN

— Bret Brincks (@BretBrincks30) January 26, 2014

You know Espn doesn’t care about BYU basketball when they have 2 women commentators…

— Josh (@Vikingboy84) January 26, 2014

Why the fuck are their two women commentators on ESPN!!!

— My Own Filth (@Big_Gshee) January 26, 2014

Need to mute these dang ladies!!!! C’mon ESPN!!! Do better. This sucks!!

— Kevin (@KevinBYUcougs) January 26, 2014

Now let me pause right here and tell you that I take great offense to the comments being made by these idiots. I don’t know Mowins or Lawson personally, but I know the struggle that a female sports writer has in a male dominated realm.

I am a NFL football fanatic. I study the game, I blog the game, I analyze and critique the game. I know players, coaches, teams, owners, stats, plays, etc. I make it a point to know the game backwards and forwards. I am not a casual fan or observer, I am a studier of the sport I love. I don’t dream of becoming the next Erin Andrews or Michelle Tafoya on the sideline asking questions but never voicing what I know, I dream of becoming the next Al Michaels or Mike Tirico and commentating on the game I love.  But our oh so progressive society still believes a woman should know her place and her place is on the sideline asking questions or in the stands cheering. Our knowledge is neither wanted nor appreciated.

Those that want to work in sports whether male or female face the same scrutiny and are given the same education. I went to school and studied sports journalism for four years. I learned sports broadcasting, sports reporting, sports writing. I had to do game recaps, live blogging and tweeting during games and player profiles, just like all my male classmates. I have run or assisted with at least three fantasy football leagues. Applications for sports journalist jobs all specify you must know the sport you wish to cover and every applicant male or female is given the same test to make sure you do.

As a female I am constantly tested by men to see just how well I know football.  There is an expectation that I cannot be that knowledgeable about the NFL though when tested men always seem surprised at how much I know. It’s not surprising, it is my passion and even my career.

That being said our society has a real problem when it comes to women covering men’s sports. It doesn’t matter how much we love and appreciate a sport or how much we know or study or learn, we need to know our place, and our place is not in the commentating booth. Men who just watched two women broadcasters last night without even listening to Lawson and Mowins proved how far we have NOT come when it comes to covering sports.

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