Sports reporting is a woman’s world, too

All too often, women are bombarded with sexist comments that are, to say the least, inappropriate and disrespectful.

Women of all races and nationalities should have the same opportunities as men. I find it appalling to hear stories on-air and in print of men sexually harassing a woman.

Growing up, I was always encouraged to follow my dreams and told that with hard work I could be and do whatever I wanted. However, society as a whole had a different mindset. It placed emphasis on men being superior to women.

In fifth grade, I was no longer allowed to play on my recreational baseball team because I was told it was a man’s sport and I would never be able to compete with men. This was the first situation where I felt I was being degraded based on gender, but I let my experience motivate me to be the best I could be no matter who I was up against. While I thought I was one of the few in this situation, I started hearing of similar stories nationally.

In 2011, a Sky Sports commentator was fired after making sexist remarks toward a female soccer official. In the same year, ESPN announcer Ron Franklin, who had worked with the network for 24 years, was fired after calling a female colleague “sweet baby,” followed by foul language. There was even another instance in 2005 where Franklin was disrespectful to sideline reporter Holley Rowe, but no punishment was ever given at that time. It’s sad to think if someone took action the first time against Franklin, another downgrade of a woman by him would not have occurred.

ESPN has gone on-record several times stating that “showing respect for colleagues [is] of the utmost importance to our company, and we take them extremely seriously.”

While ESPN does affirm this action, it does not always seem to be followed.

Sadly, these are just a few of many incidents where women were sexually harassed.

While many of these networks are doing the right thing by firing these men who are trying to look down upon women, there are still others who are allowing these crude comments to slip by with minimal punishment.

In the past week, radio host Mike Bell was suspended for three days because of a sexist comment on Twitter toward Jessica Mendoza, the first female ESPN baseball analyst and two-time softball gold medalist. Apparently he did not believe she qualified to be a baseball analyst because she played softball.

Only three days? What type of example is this punishment setting for men? Three days is absolutely nothing. Yeah, it might make a little dent in someone’s career, but in the end, it is just an invitation to let these rude, sexist comments happen again. Bell should have been fired on the spot and not be allowed to report again after degrading another human, who happened to be a woman.

All too often we see women ridiculed and nothing being done to stop it. Just because you are a man does not give you the authority, or even the right, to shame a woman.

In order to stop sexual harassment on all levels, rules need to be put in place. If more action is not done to stop this, things will get out of control, and women’s rights will be in jeopardy.

As an aspiring journalist and sports broadcaster, I want to be taken seriously, and as a female, I should have the same rights and opportunities as any man.

I do not know why many men think women are not as intelligent, or just because we may not be as muscular as them, we don’t know anything about sports.

I grew up living and breathing sports. It is a part of who I am, and I will not let any man take that from me.

I will not allow myself to take harassment from anyone. At the end of the day, it should not matter who rude comments are made toward. They should just not be accepted at all.

We are all created equal and should never degrade someone because of gender. It is time for women to a take stand and not let any man get away with any form of harassment.

Meghan Mitchell is a junior journalism major from Snellville, Ga., and is a reporter for the Lariat.