Column: Sports journalism can do better 

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Beth Mowins became the first woman to call a nationally televised NFL game in 2017. (The Newshouse/ Flickr, Creative Commons)

Sports journalism is a boys’ club. That is neither an exaggeration nor a condemnation of sports journalism. It is, however, a fact.  

Walking into any press conference or meeting room or simply glancing at the names in the sports section of a newspaper will confirm this fact.  

Sports broadcasting is also a boys’ club. Turn on any random sports channel and more often than not, men will be calling the game.  

In 2017, Beth Mowins, a long time play-by-play announcer and sports journalist for CBS and ESPN, became the first woman to a call a nationally televised NFL game.  

I have watched many games called by Beth Mowins, from women’s college basketball to softball. She is smart, savvy and doesn’t clog up the game with too much dialogue. 

After Mowins started calling NFL games, however, tons of people on social media started calling her out for having an “annoying voice” that was reminiscent of being chastised by a mother or girlfriend.  

It’s really hard to look at this controversy neutrally.  

Jacob Feldman put it best in a “Sports Illustrated” article when he said, “Defend Mowins too passionately and be accused of progressive grandstanding. Criticize her and get labeled as a sexist.”  

For me, the biggest issue I take with critics of Beth Mowins is that they are not criticizing her reporting or her play-by-play skills. If they took issue with that, then fine, we can have a clear-cut discussion about what to expect from analysts when they call games. 

Instead, Mowins’s critics bash her, not for her ability to do the job, but for the fact that she is a woman doing the job.  

Women’s voices generally sound different from men’s. While this is true, it in no way inhibits their ability to speak clearly or call a game.  

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of the way Doris Burke analyzes and reports on games. I find her a bit too talkative, and I think she can be unfairly critical of certain teams.  

However, the fact that her voice is higher than those of the men alongside whom she analyzes games or the fact that she is a woman being critical of a team is not really a valid reason to point out why she shouldn’t be on TV.  

If I cover a game or go to a press conference, it’s inevitably mostly men in the room. I’ve grown accustomed to this.  

Journalism is getting there, but it is still a largely male-dominated field.  

I don’t dislike any of the men in the room with me, nor do I wish I were one of them. I do, however, always wish there were more women and people of color in the room.  

Different experiences bring out different types of questions. When the people asking the questions are from diverse backgrounds, readers and audiences get more thought-provoking answers. Diverse backgrounds ensure more diverse stories that impact everyone

So, while there are people out there worried about Mowins’s voice being too annoying to bear, I’m focused on making sure more qualified journalists from diversified backgrounds get their voices heard. 


Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at mariana.dominguez@uconn.edu.

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