Being a female beat writer covering a major sports team is becoming less rare in the media. But having all four major sports teams in a single city, each covered by a female for a venerable publication like the Washington Post, is an anomaly.
The four women who cover sports for the Post include Liz Clarke who covers the NFL team, Candace Buckner the Wizards, Isabelle Khurshudyan the Capitals and Chelsea Janes the Nationals. It wasn’t the intention of the Post to employ four women at the same time, it just naturally happened through gender blind hiring.
The Washington Post PR blog posted an article that is worth a read, asking each of the ladies what it has been like for them in the male dominated industry of sports writing. Being a woman who covers a football team, I have had many of the same experiences that they have, being mostly fortunate that that I have gone without any major discrimination throughout my time covering the 49ers. Most people have been pleasant, welcoming, and helpful.
I think that women on the beat of a team changes the chemistry of the group in positive way. Take a look at the Philadelphia Eagles beat, which is void of women, and you get the beat where two of its members got into a fist fight at the Eagles practice facility. I’m not saying that a female being on the beat would have prevented that behavior but it certainly changes the chemistry.
I have definitely experienced not being taken seriously when I started covering football, as Khurshudyan mentioned, at least at first. Once you ask a few legitimate questions, those doubts seem to dissipate. I also agree with Clarke’s opinion that White House correspondents haven’t run for office, so a sports reporter can be someone who hasn’t actually played the sport.
The most frequently asked question I get, however, is what it’s like being in the locker room after games. Some of my male colleagues have mentioned that it was overwhelmingly uncomfortable for them, even as males, having never been in a professional locker room before. As Janes shares, it’s daunting to say the least, but watching professionals like CSN’s Mindi Bach and AP’s Janie McCauley helped me find my way towards being as comfortable as possible. I know it must be much easier now than it was in the past and I am thankful for the women that opened the doors for us all.
Finally, the ladies discuss the perspective that being a female brings to covering sports, sometimes seeing things in a different light than their male counterparts. While we may have less X’s and O’s knowledge because we haven’t played the sport, we may have different insight and ask questions that bring to light different responses from the players and coaches we have the opportunity to interview. I hope these opinions continue to bring value to all of the readers of Niners Nation. Thanks for tuning in and logging on.