As a nation full of sports fans turn their collective attention to Nashville tonight to watch UConn and Notre Dame square off in the first-ever meeting of undefeated teams in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship game, they will also see a number of female sportscasters delivering the news of the night. Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo will open the show on the desk of ESPN’s pregame and halftime shows, while Doris Burke will be the color analyst on the game broadcast with Holly Rowe delivering updates from the sidelines.
At the same time many of the nation’s top writers and broadcasters will be sitting courtside reporting on the game. One of the legacy programs put together by the Nashville Local Organizing Committee as part of the Women’s Final Four weekend has highlighted the issue of women working in sports media.
For the next issue of Sports & Entertainment Nashville, we talked with Nashville’s local female sportscasters and sportswriters to learn about them, how they got their start in the industry and how their personal experiences have related to some of the national headlines.
We spoke with the Associated Press’ Teresa Walker, WKRN & ESPNU’s Dawn Davenport and WKRN’s Audra Martin. Below are some of the questions and answers we asked of the Nashville trio, but you will have to wait for the full article to see just which person gave the answers below. Some of the responses are exactly what you might expect from a group of sports media professionals, while others will likely surprise you.
What made you want to become a sports reporter?
I grew up in a sports-oriented family. My dad was a walk-on basketball player at Duke, and my mom has always been really into sports. My brother and I were outside playing sports all the time growing up, and I played volleyball in college at Auburn. [Sports] were just what we did for fun! In college, I ended up with a mass communications major and am really lucky that I fell into what I’m meant to be doing. It wasn’t really until college, though, that I realized I could make a career out of it.
You are all active on Twitter and other social media outlets. Do you ever get tweets or messages related to your appearance or gender instead of your reporting? How do you respond if you do?
I got a viewer email that said, “Call me a bigot, call me sexist, call me whatever you want, but there are certain things I don’t want shoved down my throat, and your female sportscaster is one of them. I’m old school and I want my sports news delivered from a man.” I’ve also gotten my fair share of requests for dates and pickup lines on Twitter, but they have never really bothered me. You just have to take it with a smile.
Does sexism exist in today’s sports media world? How do your work experiences here in Nashville compare to other markets you have worked in or visited?
I have been very lucky… [snip]…I’ve been married for 17 years, and I think that having a wedding ring on helps. Dealing with the Titans, they have been great. I’ve never run into any issues when I’ve gone down to Memphis to cover the Grizzlies or Tigers, and the same with the Predators. It really is refreshing. When I hear stories from other women in the industry, I’m really sad for them because I have not run into that in Tennessee. It is a market that has not had a lot of women in it over the years, but largely I have just been “one of the guys.”
Be on the lookout soon for your copy of Sports & Entertainment Nashville in the coming weeks to see which of the local sports media members these answers belong to and the full article with more questions and answers with Nashville’s female sports media members.