Trifecta podcast celebrates women in sports

Standard

Trifecta is an all-female ESPN podcast hosted by Sarah Spain, Jane McManus and Kate Fagan. The women talk about both men’s and women’s sports, and bring their interesting perspectives to the podcast world.

On Tuesday, they hosted a special, three-hour episode called The Trifecta: Women Making History Special as part of ESPN’s celebration of Women’s History Month. They talked to WNBA players Sue Bird and Stefanie Dolson, espnW commentator Julie Foudy, SportsCenter‘s Jemele Hill, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza, USA beach volleyball player April Ross and USA hockey co-captain Hilary Knight.

The podcast touched on a variety of topics, but here are a few of my favorite highlights:

1. The discussion regarding the possibility of a female head coach in the NBA, focused on Becky Hammon, assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs. The hosts talked to Gregg Popovich, head coach of the Spurs.

“She’s been a significant part of what we do here,” Popovich said. “She’s a very capable, knowledgeable teacher, and I think it’s a great example for us and the NBA to have the first NBA woman assistant for her to be the caliber of coach she is.”

2. Knight and the hosts discussed how the USA women’s hockey team and USA hockey came to a wage agreement and avoided a boycott of the world championships.

“We were prepared to sit out World Championships, and it was a big sacrifice, but we felt  very passionate about the things we were asking for,” Knight said. “USA Hockey came to the table and wanted to show that they supported women in sport and women’s ice hockey, specifically, and we’re going to move forward and set this precedent and have a very exciting unfold of what’s to come for our sport.”

3. An interview with Hill, who spoke about diversity and how she gives back to other women.

“Mentorship was always really big,” Hill said. “It was certainly something that helped me in terms of my career and so I try to do what I can to let all the women in our business know that I’m here for whatever you need from me.”

4. Bird talked about WNBA’s struggles in keeping up with the NBA.

“I’ll be honest, when I was in college, I wasn’t checking the TV guide to see when WNBA games were on,” she said. “There’s a major disconnect, and it’s tough.”

5. Ross went into detail on the sexualization of women’s beach volleyball.

“I know that that’s out there, and I realize that some people are attracted to the sport because of it, and I don’t think that’s going to go away,” Ross said. “I mean, it’s just exacerbated by the fact that we’re wearing bikinis, which to me, seems only natural since we’re playing on the beach, and I don’t have an issue with it. I feel like I’ve worked really hard for my body, and I like our uniforms, I’m going to wear that, and kind of however people want to promote it, that’s how they’re going to promote it…Drawing people in is such a huge deal for our sport, and once they see our sport, they’re so impressed, and they fall in love with the athletic ability of the players and the game itself that I just feel like it’s almost a natural progression for us and kind of necessary in a way.”

 

Podcasts like these are especially important in elevating women’s voices and putting them at the forefront of the sports conversation. Female athletes and media members are so often discussed as an afterthought, so I enjoyed listening to their stories in detail. Spain put it best in her intro: “We don’t want to be cheerleaders.”

 

Advertisements

USA women’s hockey team boycotts for equality

Standard

The difference between the careers of male professional hockey players and female professional hockey players is astounding. Female players are paid substantially less than men and often have to take on second and third jobs on top of their hockey careers.

The U.S. women’s hockey team has decided to sit out the 2017 IIHF World Championship this year as a boycott over unfair wages. The players are seeking better contracts with USA Hockey because according to USA Today, “Players have contracts with USA Hockey individually and receive $1,000 per month for six months prior to the Winter Olympics and receive no other compensation from USA Hockey…The U.S. Olympic Committee pays members of the U.S. women’s national hockey team a stipend to represent the country at the World Championship and a bonus based on Olympic success.”

The team will be fined $30,000 for boycotting, but the players believe it’s a worthy cause in order to be treated as equals in the long run.

This boycott will have a strong impact because, along with Canada, the USA hockey team is the most popular among fans in the World Championship, and their absence will definitely be felt. I commend these women for this decision, and I hope to see more support from USA Hockey in the future.

SLAM reminds us that basketball is bigger than just the NBA

Standard

I started subscribing to SLAM Magazine because of the cool posters that come with every issue (and, to be honest, that’s still a major reason why I subscribe to this day – my bedroom looks a bit like a teenage boy’s room with posters of LeBron James and Allen Iverson plastered across the walls). However, in terms of content, I’m consistently impressed by SLAM’s coverage of women’s basketball. Although the ratio of WNBA to NBA coverage is nowhere near equal, SLAM focuses on women’s basketball way more than most sports outlets. From feature pieces on the players to simple game coverage and trade stories, SLAM highlights a league that doesn’t get a lot of recognition in the mainstream media. Take a look at this 2015 special edition featuring some of the best:

 

SLAM’s coverage of the WNBA playoffs is always extensive, and even women’s college and high school basketball gets a bit of attention from the magazine. It would be great to see more news outlets put this type of emphasis on women’s sports. In my opinion, if you consider yourself a basketball fan but have no interest in both the NBA and WNBA, you are cheating yourself out of a lot of quality basketball and storylines.

SLAM may not be the premier sports magazine in the country, but its ability to seamlessly blend both men’s and women’s basketball into one product is both progressive and commendable. I hope to see SLAM and other media outlets to continue to increase their coverage of women’s hoops.

The big four of the Washington Post

Standard

I’ve heard a lot of discussions regarding women in positions on sports television, like broadcasting and analyzing, but it’s important not to forget about the print side of things. Although a reporter’s gender may not be as evident in print journalism, it’s still necessary to have a wide array of voices. I recently read this piece from the Washington Post on its four female writers covering the four major sports teams in D.C. I commend the Post for making an effort to diversify by employing women to these big sports, and I also think it’s great that the newspaper is spotlighting the women and their accomplishments in this piece, which includes a Q&A with many of the topics I’ve been discussing throughout this blog.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the piece, from Redskins beat writer Liz Clarke:

I’ve never felt that playing football or playing any particular sport was a prerequisite for covering the sport, as long as the reporter is inquisitive, diligent and persistent. White House correspondents, for example, typically haven’t run for office, nor have war correspondents necessarily served in battle. So I don’t think about or dwell on challenges that being a female in a male-dominated field might present.

I appreciate that these women make no excuses. It’s easy to talk about all of the challenges that women face in the sports field, but sometimes it’s important to just focus on the job itself and tackle it like you would in any field, regardless of gender, as Clarke states.

These are all accomplished women who have more than earned their current roles at one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country, and I look forward to reading their work in the future.

 

NHWL: The rise of the Boston Pride

Standard

I’ve always been interested in seeing how women’s leagues compare to the more popular, well-known men’s leagues. Professional hockey is interesting to look at because the NHL has such a huge following. The National Women’s Hockey League is only in its second season, but it’s steadily gaining fans and recognition, so I went to a Boston Pride game to see what the atmosphere was like. They played at Warrior Ice Arena, which happens to be the Bruins’ practice facility. Although the game was nothing like an NHL game in terms of fan turnout, the Pride seemed to have gained a solid following.

This was my first-ever attempt at a news video, so I definitely experienced a good number of challenges in both shooting and editing the video. It’s a useful skill to have as a journalist, though.