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Stopping Institutionalized Sexism in Sports

As a girl who loves baseball, at times my knowledge of the game has been questioned simply because of my gender. And I know that some of my other female friends, who love sports and are passionate about them, have experienced the same frustration of others assuming they are pretending to be interested in sports, or only know the obvious facts. But my gender doesn’t make me any less of a fan than a boy, but for some people, it does.

This sexisms also seems to come into play within the sports industry, and specifically, sports journalism world.

Softball player and two-time Olympic medalist Jessica Mendoza made sports journalism history Oct. 6, 2015, as she was the first woman to join national coverage of a Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason game. She also made headlines for being the first woman to join a national broadcast for regular season games.

While Mendoza made an amazing stride for women in sports journalism, it is imperative that more women are able to join national coverage of male-dominated sports, and vice versa. Gender should not determine if someone is qualified to do their job.

Mendoza was faced with unwarranted sexist out lash over the Internet, including multiple complaints that Mendoza didn’t know what she was talking about and was ruining the game simply because she is a woman.

According to a 2015 Time article about women’s representation in the media, the percentage of women in sports journalism dropped from 17 to 10 percent last year. As Mendoza was the first woman to call play-by-play action for a postseason game, she broke down many barriers for women and is helping women to strive toward equality in male-dominated sports.

A large part of the criticism toward Mendoza was because she had never played baseball, she could not fully comprehend it and analyze it as well as her male counterparts who had. While softball is a very similar sport, it is not the same thing as baseball. But Vin Scully, a male commentator who has not played baseball has become legendary in his broadcasts for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Scully, who has reported play by play coverage for the Dodgers since 1950, never played professional baseball.  He played a single season as a senior at Fordham University, but he never stepped up to bat or made a play in an MLB game. Yet, he is lauded as “the voice of the Dodgers” and as a legendary figure in baseball. His career has spanned over 66 years, and he has been with the Dodgers since they were located in New York.

A major component in the controversy against Mendoza has been that she isn’t knowledgeable about baseball, but that is unfounded. She knows how to analyze America’s pastime and has the skill set needed, and the MLB wouldn’t have put her in the booth if she wasn’t able to do her job.

The criticism against Mendoza and other female sports commentators and journalists such as Erin Andrews, Molly Knight, Lana Berry and others is a product of institutionalized sexism in the sports journalism world.

Women are becoming increasingly involved in the sports industry, and that is a huge accomplishment. But, institutionalized sexism still seems to be alive and well within the male-dominated sports industry. However, it’s a pointless belief that places gender over merit.

Women are not ruining sports, nor are they trying to be cute with their knowledge of them. Women are here to stay. Let’s play ball.

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