I’ve always been a big fan of ESPN’s documentary series 30 for 30. The series explores different topics and major stories in the sports world, most of which happened before I was even born. I eat.it.up. (and of course, I bawled my eyes out through Survive and Advance, even though it was about NC State’s Wolf Pack). I was very excited when ESPN announced it would do a series of 30 for 30 called Nine for IX examining different sports stories and the role of women in the sports world. A new film airs each week until August 27, so I highly recommend checking it out.
Last night I watched the most recent Nine for IX, Let Them Wear Towels. The film tells the stories of several female sportswriters from the 1970s and 80s who struggled to, basically, do their job. Not only did the women have to fight for the chance to report on the game, but the battle only became worse at the door of the locker room. Women were not allowed into many professional teams’ locker rooms for post-game interviews (which makes writing a story quite difficult). Additionally, many women were taunted and harassed for trying. I was especially shocked to learn the story of Lisa Olson, who was sexually harassed by Patriots players in the locker room in 1990. It’s crazy to think that law suit occurred within my lifetime. Overall, I highly recommend the film to anyone interested in sports reporting or women’s equality.
Even though I have never been in a post-game locker room, as a female journalist looking to get into sports communication, I know what it takes — and I was shocked at what these women went through just to get the same story as male reporters. I’ve written several stories in which it was nearly impossible to speak to crucial sources, and I can hardly imagining having them stand on the other side of a door and refusing to speak to me. It clearly took a lot of courage for these women to make the social changes that they did, and pave the way for young females in the industry.
However, there are still some hurdles women have to jump in the sports industry. I know that my journalism classes at UNC were packed with women, many of whom aspired to work in the sports industry. These credible and talented women are competing for few spots in a male-dominated field. Women are still fighting to get equality and fair recognition for the work they put forth in sports communications. Even in my sports marketing and advertising class, we only did a short lecture on women in sports. On the other hand, it is good to know that we have come a long way since the 1970s and there has been significant progress in my lifetime.
Did you watch Let Them Wear Towels? What did you think about the film and women’s progress in the sports industry? Let me know in the comments!