It’s been just under a year since I started interning with the Associated Press.
In that time, I’ve covered dozens of football and basketball games and various other sporting events.
I’ve most definitely learned how to be a better writer. (I’m pretty damn good at writing passive sentences.) But that’s not what this is about. This is about dealing with the grind of being a woman sports reporter in a field that is largely dominated by men.
Granted, I knew what I was getting into. When I was a beat reporter for my campus newspaper during my freshman year, I noticed that I was in a very small minority. That semester there were three of us (women).
I’m still there, and I’m the only one.
Going into this, I knew what I was in for. I guess, I thought I did.
Flashback to late summer of 2014: my first game covering the Kansas City Chiefs.
When I walked into the press box, I noticed immediately that I was one of the only females. Yes, the Chiefs PR have many females working for them, but from a reporter’s standpoint, I was the only one. Now, was I uncomfortable? No. It was just weird.
When I took my seat and looked around, I noticed I was the only female on my row. Most everyone around me was your stereotypical sports journalist: white and male.
There were some of my female counterparts in the locker room after the game, but they were all toting television cameras. Me? I have my recorder, notebook and a black pen.
It’s not just at Chiefs games. It’s at Kansas football and basketball as well. So, basically everywhere I work.
Do I mind? No. Everyone is extremely nice to me. I mean, some of the veterans joke around with me and what have you, but I assure you, I give them sass right back. When I visualize those media rooms, more than half, let’s say 70 percent, of my peers could, in theory, be my dad. Is that weird? Well, I’d be lying if I said no.
Not everything is or was hunky dory, though. I’ve received unwanted attention from a few athletes. I’ve been catcalled more times than I can recall. I’ve been told my opinion was wrong solely because of my gender. Different people in the field have been very forward with me. I’ve felt unsafe walking back to my car alone at 1 a.m. (Mace is a good friend. I’ve never had to use it, but I have it just in case.)
Every single time I’ve walked into a media room or locker room over the past year, at least 10 percent of the people in the room have stared, stared briefly, but stared nonetheless. I kind of feel like a new animal at the zoo for a brief period of time. Now that’s awkward.
Is that enough to deter me from what I love? Of course not. But it’s something that most of the men in my field don’t have to deal with. I wouldn’t wish that attention or uncomfortable feeling on any of them.