Monday, November 5, 2012

Sideline Reporting: That Is Women's Work

 
Is every televised athletic event required to have a female sideline reporter? In basketball and football it's more often the case than not. This is not news, but only a few mention it.
 
Freakonomics asked this question a few years ago. Commenters to that story circled the same explanations, in general: Men like pretty women, especially when those women are talking about sports.. The networks want diversity.. Coach is more likely to stop his halftime trot and talk to a woman.. 
 
Everyone deserves an opportunity, and God bless anyone who is employed in this time.. still, I must ask the question. Is it really about the above reasons? All of them are logical but none are good.
 
It's just striking that every network has a handful of attractive women, ready with a handheld mic to aim at Coach or someone during halftime. (Tony Siragusa is always mentioned as the exception, which proves the point.) Reminds me of the arms war (legs war?) that FoxNews launched with pretty teleprompter readers. Now CNN and the rest feel incomplete without some long eyelashes to bat at us. Even the local channels.
 
When sideline reporters started infiltrating sports, it was obvious from jump street that these women and men were performing an unnecessary task. The in media res questions and "minglin' with the team" act add nothing.
 
This is no insult to the people with those jobs--this is about the jobs themselves. If it was just about diversity, networks would just hire female camera operators and producers. So it must be the cute factor. The cute factor can always stand to be sliced off like excess fat.
 
The same is true of all sports panelists, if we can be honest, with their pre-game, halftime, and post-game opinions. They are simply there for people who love to stare at the television a while longer.
 
But at least the sports fan can avoid the retired-athlete babbling. Sideline commentary is inserted randomly.
 

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