Kerith Burke: Three thoughts on Women's Empowerment Month


Three Women’s Empowerment Month thoughts …

One: A Warriors fan told me he’s excited to listen to the all-female Warriors-Bulls radio broadcast on March 29 with his daughter. That’s awesome, I said. If you have any sons, listen with them, too.

Two: I texted Kate Scott, the woman doing play-by-play for that broadcast on 95.7 The Game, when she was boarding a plane to Boston. Kate will call three professional women’s hockey games -- two semifinals and the championship. Then she’ll fly across the country, back to the Bay Area. Then she’ll call the Warriors game.

That adds up to four games in four days, a slate any broadcaster would tell you is challenging. Kate sent me a picture of her old-school flashcards to remember which player wears what jersey number. There are no shortcuts in preparation.

Three: NBC Sports California and the Kings announced their women and non-binary broadcast for the March 27 game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. When these games are packaged with a lot of talk about empowerment and representation, I wondered if non-binary people felt unseen. Layshia Clarendon, the former Cal star and current WNBA player who identifies as trans and gender non-conforming, will lend their expertise to the game.

Representation is important every day, every month, every year.

There’s a tweet sitting in my drafts folder because I wasn’t sure how it would come off. It’s in response to Steve Kerr explaining why the Warriors are proud to air an all-female broadcast. He said, “These kinds of things are really crucial to break barriers.”


My unsent tweet building on that feeling reads, “I'm thrilled to be part of an all-women broadcast, and I believe in the sincerity and support the Warriors and 95.7 The Game are showing us. I ALSO want to see, given that it's clear this is all possible production-wise, opportunities for women to do this in April, May, June, etc.”

Who are these broadcasts for? What does empowerment mean? 

Tonight, NBC Sports Bay Area is airing a special “Women’s Empowerment Month: Women in Basketball” show, first at 5:30 p.m. and again after the Warriors-Kings game. The first part of the program is called “Women in the NBA,” featuring five interviews I recently did with women coaching in the game. 

Reviewing the show reminded me of what Cavaliers assistant Lindsay Gottlieb told me, when she reflected on Spurs assistant Becky Hammon becoming the first woman to serve as a head coach in an NBA game. Said Gottlieb: “I really can't overstate like how it moved me. Seeing it was really, really powerful.”

She elaborated: “You know, I work with a lot of really talented assistant coaches, and I just hear them talking, which is totally normal, ‘Hey, you know, when I have my own team one day,’ or ‘Hey, these are my goals,’ and they should be talking like that. I just don't believe that I can talk like that yet. You know what I mean? It doesn't feel natural, and I've coached in the Final Four [at Cal] and I've coached as a head coach for 11 years. But until you see someone do it, it's really hard to believe those words can come out of your mouth.”

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Seeing the firsts is important. It’s confirmation about what is possible. Opportunity must follow.    When it comes to these broadcasts, I feel excited. I feel grateful. I want more. I feel like it’s a first step when I’d rather be running a marathon, but it’s something. It really is something.

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