Changing perceptions towards female sports broadcasters
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How do people view women in sport journalism? Reabetswe Mpete shared her analysis at the IWG Conference on Women and Sport in Botswana.

 It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes…It’s funny.”

Those were the words of Cam Newton in 2017. The Carolina Panthers American football quarterback smirked as he spoke after Jourdan Rodrigue, a sportswriter for the Charlotte Observer, asked him a question about passing routes. Newton’s remarks are illustrative of the attitudes female sports broadcasters often face.

Sports are a male-dominated world – that has always been the narrative. But as Reabetswe Mpete from the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee explained, that is changing. More women are entering sports broadcasting. Some, such as Carol Tshabalala, known as the queen of sport in her native South Africa, are leading the way.

However, major challenges remain. Not only is coverage of women’s sport still limited but the credibility of females working in sports media is often questioned. Both men and women often think female commentators don’t know what they are talking about.

Within the industry, women are often discriminated against. They have an invisible status within sport departments and research has described their working environment as a hostile environment.

When a woman enters the profession, she receives a greater level of scrutiny than her male colleagues. What does she look like? Does she belong? Does she know her job?

She is eventually accepted by sideline broadcasters and her co-hosts. But, as in the case of Carole Tshabalala, this process takes years. When she receives the respect she deserves, she still doesn’t reach the same level of recognition as her male colleagues.

This situation needs to change, so what can be done? Mpete has four recommendations:

  1. Have a roundtable of female sports broadcasters to begin the discussion
  2.  Conduct one-on-one interviews with male and female broadcasters to study the context further
  3. Create pressure to raise the profiles of women in the media
  4. Create an initiative in Africa like the Association of Women in the Sports Media



Senior Project Manager
International Platform on Sport and Development