Sports from a woman’s perspective, such a hard concept for some to wrap their head around, isn’t it?! While many feel that it is a man’s world, one thing we can all find common ground in is the passion people can have for sport. Eighth-semester sports media and human rights double-major Taylor Coonan and sixth-semester sport management major Katherine Sheridan share their “why sports” moment and also touch on the trials and tribulations they face in a predominantly male-dominated field.
I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting on the couch in the middle of winter watching the Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 NFC Championship game. With emotions running high and the game on the line, cornerback Richard Sherman, a prominent member of the Legion of Boom, made the game winning play that would send Seattle to the Super Bowl. While this was a great on-field moment, it was the moments that followed that had a greater impact on me as I watched reporter Erin Andrews crush the postgame interview and create one of the most viral moments in sports for years to come. Andrews was front and center as she found Sherman right after the final whistle. Sherman, being more animated than usual, was quick to respond to her first question as she asked him to break down the final play. Sherman did not hold back as he yelled into the mic, “Well I’m the best corner in the game and when you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree that’s the result you’re going to get! Don’t you ever talk about me!” Without any hesitation, Andrews followed up with, “Who was talking about you?” Sherman responded with “Crabtree!” This 30-second clip in such a chaotic moment not only made me want to be a part of the big moments but it also bridged the love I have for competition and personality.
Seeing Andrews able to hold her own in such an environment inspired me to challenge the social norms and set out on a path that isn’t filled with people that look alike. While some of my interests have changed and the values I once had might have changed, something that remains is the commitment I have to young girls who also want to have a seat at the table.
In all honesty, I am not taking the time to memorize every point that was put up during an NBA game and I don’t know the blood type of the assistant offensive line coach of the New York Giants, but I do know that Jameis Winston loves his “hello” charcoal activated toothpaste and Klay Thompson has a dog named Rocco. Being a fan can look different for everyone and no two people will have the same reasoning as to why they love a team or player the way they do. Now, I do have some requests. Those who may be packing heat from the jump, I ask that you choose not to blitz right away and consider giving some time to assess the situation. I know some are skeptical, but the underestimation of knowledge that a woman in sport has compared to a man in sport is astronomical and needs to be reeled in, kind of like DeAndre Hopkins’ training regimen (but seriously, he’s a different breed).
The intense conversations are fun to have at times but god forbid we mess up a stat line, we’re attacked quicker than Kevin Durant’s hairline after a fresh cut. Although I know that LeBron James is 14-11 when facing elimination play-off games and that Jerry Rice leads the NFL with 197 receiving touchdown passes, this knowledge is trivial and isn’t what I need to rely on when it comes time to make an important decision on the job. As I reflect on my past experiences while working in sport and as I continue to pursue my degree, I hope that my presence now will one day help to eliminate the challenges for younger generations that come after me and pave the way for a more diverse landscape for sports as we know it.
Associate Sports Editor
I do what I do, whatever that may be, because I like it and because I can. Working in sports is “that” for me, I love sports and the atmosphere they can create. To be a part of that here at UConn has meant so much to me. Not unlike many people, men included, sports drew me in as a fan. I root for my teams and in doing so, I took on a new perspective of just how many people it takes – for example, to run a football team on game day from start to finish. Not only am I a fan of UConn athletics, but I’m constantly cheering for those who you don’t see on the court or the field because they are working to make sure we have a team to begin with.
The thing with sports is that they’re everything: They’re livelihoods, they’re passions, they’re hobbies and the list goes on. Sports are never not happening in the world and they bring us all so close together, yet there is still such gender inequality. I’ve heard many times that a woman shouldn’t be working in football because “women don’t play football,” as if that means I, or any other woman, wouldn’t be able to understand it. Old men don’t play women’s basketball, many have never even played men’s basketball, yet no one questions their right to be there coaching or reporting on teams. If they’ve become “legends” through watching years’ worth of games to develop a perspective, why can’t a woman do the same? If credentials come with time, what does that have to do with gender? The days of discrediting someone and their work simply because of someone else’s sexist beliefs are unfortunately not over, but the days of being complicit are.
If I’ve learned anything in the classroom, it’s that everyone has the literal human right to sport and the benefits that athletics bring to society. On the field or in the media booth, I aim to make sure this is the case – because I can and I like sports so much that I want them to be at their best. In order to achieve this, we need gender equality for not only athletes, but people working for teams and organizations. When you really love something, you want more for it than misogynistic people and their actions. You work to see the end of it, you don’t avoid it and instead pursue something “more feminine.” I don’t care that it makes men “uncomfortable” to see women in positions that society has historically reserved for men. Women have been uncomfortable being treated unequally and the minute that we try to do something about it, that hurts men’s feelings? Tell me more about how emotional women are. Really, we must be so dramatic. That’s why we break things when our teams don’t win, oh wait, that’s reserved for men too.
I dream of a world without these reservations, where someone’s gender isn’t at the forefront of the work they’re doing. Instead, we can focus more on their accomplishments. However, this isn’t to prioritize someone’s work over the individual. Ultimately, it shouldn’t be a “surprise” that a football team is coached by a woman or that there is another woman on the sidelines giving a halftime report. Sure, let’s acknowledge and appreciate both of them and their work but let’s leave the “for a woman” part out of this. A woman can lead a football team or analyze the game and be great at it, they don’t need to “do a good job for a girl.” The only “for a girl” part should be on behalf of younger girls, looking to see representation in their interests and career paths. For me, I didn’t see enough women with the jobs I wanted, so I’m dedicating the rest of my life to being that woman; for myself and for other women and for a girl – whoever that girl is.