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A Female Reporter Was Shamed For Wearing A Tank Top During An Interview. When Will Women Be Taken Seriously In Sports Journalism?

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The past couple of years has brought influential changes in how women are treated in the workplace. The fight has been brought directly to top managements, who can no longer ignore the rampant sexism women face in the workforce. This is especially necessary for careers which have previously been dubbed as the “Boys’ Club”, by the men running it of course. And the space of sports journalism remains one of the big ones where we are yet to see changes brought in how female reporters are perceived and how seriously they are taken. “As a woman in sports, I already know I HAVE to push harder.”, was the sentiment ABC sports reporter Dionne Miller wrote in an op-ed and that infuriates us.

I still remember when Mandira Bedi was widely trolled for every cricket commentator gig she took on in the early 2000s. People seemed to focus more on her sarees and noodle strap blouses than the words and ideas she presented on Sony Max’s Extraa Innings during the 2003 World Cup.  A controversial opinion piece from The Hindu read, “No offence intended but she only brings an unwanted, undesired, unneeded glamour to cricket coverage. She adds misplaced sex appeal to some serious talk on cricket at the biggest-ever cricketing extravaganza,”. Ridiculous, right?

This was 20 years back and by the looks of it not much has changed. Female sports reporters are still being slapped on their behinds on camera, grabbed by rowdy fans and even being shamed by fellow male journalists. A recent incident that has sparked yet another sexism row in the field was when one former athlete-turned journo commented on a reporter’s choice of tank top on camera!

In a now-deleted tweet, Belgian former pro-cyclist-turned-reporter Sven Spoormakers commented, “Is it cold in Argentina?” to an interview featuring a female reporter in a low cut top. ESPN reporter Belen Mendiguren was interviewing a competitor at the Vuelta a San Juan and was hit with the sexist remark. Spoormarkers was called out by multiple women on the platform, including Australian sports journalist Sophie Smith.

To Sophie’s tweet, Spoormarkers responded, “Objectify, really? Come on. Don’t draw the feminist card on this one. She knows exactly what she’s wearing – or not wearing – and why. If I would interview a female athlete with my balls out, you’d be joking about it too. Or calling it a disgrace.”. This was further ridiculed by Smith in follow-up tweets:

The incident also warranted a response by Belen herself and she tweeted:

Following the intense Twitter storm, Spoormarkers appeared to try and bury the whole thing with a sorry excuse of an apology:

Yeah, right!

One of the biggest reasons why the issue of rampant sexism and assault on women in sports journalism has been ignored is because of indifference. People just don’t care if a reporter is forcefully kissed on the cheek by an adrenaline-fueled athlete in the heat of winning a game. It’s all in the name of “being a good sport!”. Erm, we are not convinced and the people involved in it need to do better!

A Tennis Player Asked His Ball Girl To Peel His Banana. It Reeks Of Entitlement And Sexism. Do It Yourself!


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