CSN TOMBOY

TOMBOY : Women in sports are not unicorns, they do exist

TOMBOY : Women in sports are not unicorns, they do exist

By Kelli Johnson, CSN Bay Area

When people, and by people I mean both men and women, find out what I do for a living, it’s always the same response and question, “That’s cool! So you’re on TV?! Why sports broadcasting… do you like sports?”  Now, the inner smartass in me wants to say, “No, I hate sports.  I just think pro athletes are hot and rich and famous, and I just want to sleep with them and hang out in locker rooms!”  Because unfortunately that is exactly what many men (and even some women) think.  But instead, I give the standard explanation: I played college basketball.  My parents were both athletes and coaches and PE teachers so I literally grew up on the baseball field and in the gym, playing every sport I could.  But since I can’t play competitively anymore, I decided covering sports was the next best thing… so here I am. 

It’s a conversation that seems harmless, and I really don’t mind sharing my story.  In fact, I’m very proud of my athletic career and upbringing, because I truly love sports and it’s a big part of who I am.  But does anyone ever ask a man in sports broadcasting, “Why did you pick that profession… do you like sports?”  I would guess that has possibly never been asked of a man, at least the latter part.  Because for some reason if you were born with a penis, you automatically know how to play sports and can understand sports.  And when a man gets on TV and talks about the Warriors win over the Cavaliers and Stephen Curry’s big night, he is automatically considered qualified and knowledgeable.  I mean, does anyone ever think to ask a man who covers the NBA, did you actually play basketball?  We women get that question all the time. I love it when guys say, “what do you know about football, you never played it!”  Which is true - but do you know how many men cover the NFL who never played the game either?  

If we’re comparing resumes, I would venture to say that most of my male counterparts don’t have athletic careers that rival mine.  Did they play Division I sports on a full-ride scholarship?  Were they four-year starters and all-conference selections? Did they set scoring records and get inducted into their University’s Sports Halls of Fame?  I did.  But I don’t hand out my resume when I go to work just so that I can have the same respect as the men around me. Once I actually had an MLB team executive tell me that he Googled my name when I started covering the team and was impressed to read about my basketball career!  It was like he looked at me in a totally different way.  I suddenly had his respect.  And yet strangely, I kinda liked the fact that he looked me up, so at least he knew I had the credentials to be there.  But unfortunately, that is most often the case when you first start covering a team.  The front office, coaches and athletes are quick to judge you based on the very first question you ask… you can almost hear them thinking, “oh boy, let’s see if this woman knows what she’s talking about.”

[RELATED: More about the TOMBOY documentary]

When I talk to young women who want to get into this business today, my first piece of advice is to always know what you’re talking about and be prepared to back it up. I tell them to do their homework and be more prepared then the men around them, because every time you open your mouth, you will be judged.  And the one time you mess up, mispronounce a name, get a stat wrong, it will be because you are a woman and just a cute skirt who doesn’t know sports.  That’s our reality in this so called man’s world.  And I gladly accept the challenge… because unlike many of my male counterparts, I am a retired athlete, who still needs to fuel my competitive fire.  So bring it on.  I love proving people wrong and showing I can “hang with the boys.”  I don’t even mind when I get that response from a guy at the bar who looks at me and says shockingly, “Wow, you really know your sports.  You’re like every guy’s dream girl!”  Yet another comment I’m sure my male counterparts don’t hear on a daily basis.  But I laugh.  It’s funny and sort of a back handed compliment.  I get it, it’s not every day you hear a woman talking about a cover two defense over sushi!  But we are not unicorns, we do exist.  

Of course, when I’m not behind the mic, I still really enjoy playing pickup ball and embarrassing dudes on the court, because they immediately assume that I can’t play.  Or playing in a golf charity event and having guys stare in amazement at my long drive right down the fairway, because you know girls aren’t supposed to be able to hit a golf ball… or throw a baseball… or make it rain like the Splash Brothers… or talk a good game!  After all, we’re missing that important piece of anatomy.  Oh and for the record, when we do have to go into the locker room to DO OUR JOBS, we aren’t trying to check anyone out! Only a man would do that.   

TOMBOY: #YesAllWomenInSports

TOMBOY: #YesAllWomenInSports

By Tess Quinlan

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a sports journalist.

There might have been a very brief stint in kindergarten where Friendly’s waitress was discussed as an option, but that melted away as quickly as a Cone Head sundae.

With the exception of kindergarten, there was no hesitation or question; I was going to be a sports journalist. I was going to do anything to get there, but there were going to be some rough moments.

I remember being the only girl watching the game with the boys. I remember the isolation of being the only woman on a beat. I remember the skeptical looks, the odd questions, and the doubtful comments.

But by far, the absolute worst part of all was, and still is, The Quiz.

Any woman that works in sports journalism will tell you that at some point in her life, she has been subjected to a quiz by someone who thinks they know more about sports than she does. It could be someone close to them, like a friend or family member, or someone that she’s just met, like a guy in a bar, your barista or mechanic.

The quiz normally starts with little questions with an air of superiority and condescension, normally starting with “WELL” and ending with “Huh?!” (Real-life example-WELL, What is Utah’s mascot, huh?!)

As a woman, you know that a man would never be subjected to this in a serious context. You are acutely aware that this is not a joke. There is an expectation that you must answer the basic, idiotic questions to show your knowledge and that is the most frustrating thing of all.

If someone tells you they’re an accountant, you don’t ask them to debit an account. If someone tells you they’re a history teacher, you don’t demand they list all the presidents. You don’t make them prove that they are knowledgeable in their field. You take their word for it.

As a society, we still have a long way to go with how we see women in sports, both on and off the floor, but we have made tremendous progress. For all of The Quizzes, there are genuine questions and supporters.

I once asked my mom if she ever tried to convince me to pursue another career. She started to laugh. “Even if I wanted to, I never had a chance. You decided very early that this was what you were going to do. You were constantly going to games with your dad, so I just tried to help in whatever way I could.”

Her encouragement made me focus on the positive aspects of what I do.

For me, work is debating whether or not Terrell Owens should be in the Hall of Fame or covering a March Madness game. It’s always something new.

There’s enough competition in sports, so let’s stop the quizzes and start the support.

CSN Chicago joins NBC Sports in celebrating Women's History Month with TOMBOY

tomboy_for_press_release.jpg

CSN Chicago joins NBC Sports in celebrating Women's History Month with TOMBOY

CSN Chicago to premiere the one-hour TOMBOY documentary feature on Monday, March 13 at 9:00 PM CT
CSN to also air an accompanying local “Women in Sports” roundtable special on Wednesday, March 8 at 9:00 PM
Numerous TOMBOY videos, interviews, podcasts, symposium highlights, and much more available at CSNChicago.com/TOMBOY

Chicago, IL (March 2, 2017) – To celebrate Women’s History Month in March, CSN Chicago proudly joins NBC Sports' TOMBOY initiative, a first-of-its-kind, multi-platform documentary project that aims to elevate the conversation about gender in sports told through the voices of many of the world’s most prominent females athletes, broadcasters, and sports executives.  The TOMBOY initiative (presented by GEICO) is being celebrated throughout the country on NBC Sports Regional Networks from coast to coast with the airing of a one-hour documentary feature, special locally-produced programs, video interviews, podcasts, symposiums, and much more.

The one-hour TOMBOY documentary, which features many prominent athletes, sports executives and media members sharing their unique stories and experiences, will premiere on CSN Chicago on Monday, March 13 at 9:00 PM CT.  Notable figures appearing in the film include four-time World Cup-champion skier Lindsey Vonn, Little League World Series pitching sensation Mo'ne Davis, Basketball Hall of Famer Ann Meyers-Drysdale, and legendary champion for gender equality/tennis icon Billie Jean King among others. In the last 40 years, the number of females participating in sports has nearly doubled, with two out of every five girls today choosing to play sports, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. The documentary discusses reasons why some girls aren’t playing sports, as well as increases in awareness and conversation about the participation of women in sports.  NOTE: CSN will also re-air the TOMBOY documentary on the following dates/times: 3/17 at 12:30 PM, 3/18 at 4:30 PM, 3/19 at 8:00 PM, 3/22 at 7:00 PM, and 3/31 at 11:00 PM.

In addition, CSN Chicago will be airing a special, locally-produced "Women in Sports" roundtable discussion show on Wednesday, March 8 at 9:00 PM CT.  Hosted by CSN anchor/reporter Kelly Crull, this half-hour special features a prominent local panel, including veteran NBC Chicago sports anchor/reporter Peggy Kusinski, Head Coach of Northwestern University’s massively-successful women’s lacrosse team Kelly Amonte Hiller, along with Sami Grisafe, quarterback of the Women's Football Alliance's (WFA) Chicago Force.  Among the topics of discussion include how women's roles in sports have evolved over time and if sufficient progress has been made, challenges faced along their respective career paths, how they first became involved in sports, and much more.  CSN will re-air its "Women in Sports" local special on the following dates/times: 3/9 at 5:30 PM, 3/10 at 2:30 PM, and 3/11 at 9:00 PM.

Plus -- CSN Chicago will also air a special program featuring focused solely on the legendary Billie Jean King. The half-hour interview show, Billie Jean King: Elevating the Conversation, will debut Thursday, March 9 at 11:00 PM, and will encore Sunday, March 12 at 6:00 PM.

Earlier this week (Monday, February 27), CSN Chicago held a "Women in Sports" symposium at DePaul University’s Student Center, which included a TOMBOY documentary sneak preview screening & a spirited panel discussion featuring CSN’s Kelly Crull as the symposium’s host/moderator, along with panelists Jean Lenti Ponsetto (DePaul University, Athletics Director), Doug Bruno (DePaul University, Women’s Basketball Head Coach), Susan Goodenow (Chicago Bulls, VP of Marketing & Branding), Peggy Kusinski (NBC Chicago, Sports Anchor/Reporter), and Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars, Forward).  As part of the symposium, and in conjunction with the TOMBOY initiative, CSN Chicago VP/GM Phil Bedella presented a $5,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago to be used to purchase sports equipment for children who attend the Club(s). 

The donation stems from Comcast NBCUniversal's longstanding partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  Comcast NBCUniversal has supported local Boys & Girls Clubs for more than 15 years, providing nearly $125 million in cash and in-kind contributions since 2009 alone.  In late 2014, Comcast NBCUniversal announced a five-year agreement with BGCA valued at tens of millions of dollars, making BGCA the company’s largest community partner.  At the center of that agreement is a new technology education initiative, called My.Future, which is designed to open the eyes of young people to what’s possible for them to achieve through technology.  Highlights from CSN Chicago’s "Women in Sports" symposium at DePaul University can be accessed via the following link: http://www.csnchicago.com/video/tomboy-women-sports-symposium .

For additional TOMBOY content, including original on-camera interviews and career stories, podcasts, documentary trailers, and much more, viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com/TOMBOY. Social media users can also join the conversation and find additional information by utilizing the hashtag #CSNTOMBOY on Twitter and Facebook and by visiting @CSNTOMBOY.