On Wednesday, our class heard from two speakers on what it means to be not only a woman in the sports industry, but also a woman athlete.
The speakers from different parts of the industry. Iliana Limon Romero is deputy sports editor of the L.A. Times and Dr. Scott Brooks is director of research for the Global Sport Institute and an associate professor of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State.
One thing Iliana said that stuck with me was that journalists should play to their strengths. Young journalists like us should identify what we are good at and use those skills when we talk to athletes. Often it can be intimidating to see veteran reporters who have developed long, close relationships with players and coaches, but we can use thoughtful questions to build trust.
Dr. Brooks spoke about women athletes, focusing on Serena Williams and how her accomplishments on the court often are not as respected because she is a black woman. There can be a hyperfocus on her actions that tends to paint her in a negative light, a light that doesn’t often hit other WTA players.
It’s important to talk about the challenges that women athletes, especially those of color, face. Not only are they undercovered by the media, but when there is coverage, Brooks noted it tends to focus on topics that are interesting to “traditional” sports consumers: men. Those topics don’t always emphasize the women’s accomplishments.
By understanding these challenges, we can find ways to better cover these women as athletes. By doing that, my classmates and I can help bring change to newsrooms, and help change how we cover these athletes.