In the sporting world, there is an interesting story developing in that a commentator named Beth Mowins has been scheduled to provide play-by-play services for the Monday Night Football game on September 11, 2017. She will be the first woman to broadcast a Monday Night Football game and only the second woman to do play-by-play for any NFL game.
The only woman to do so was Gayle Sierens way back in 1987. I have to tell you, I’m shocked. With the Rams no longer in St. Louis, my interest in all things football has waned but until recently I was a big fan. I spent many hours in front of the television watching games. I went to taverns with friends and watched game after game. I spent afternoons in the home of other friends watching Rams and other teams play.
I often ranted about how bad was the commentary. The Rams, being a lousy team, generally drew the worst announcers in the league. I was no casual fan. I paid attention. Thus, my shock.
I had no idea a woman hadn’t been a play-by-play announcer in a game. Now that I think about it, yeah, there were never any women commentating. Sure, there were sideline reporters but never did I hear a woman’s voice performing the play-by-play. And yet I was completely oblivious to this fact. Completely.
It stuns me that I was so ignorant of this detail. I like to consider myself a fairly observant fellow. I have five sisters, all active on Facebook, some of whom are quite rigorous defenders of women’s rights. They keep me updated regularly.
In addition to being stunned by my ignorance, I must admit there is no excuse for this obliviousness. It is a stunning and humbling example of institutionalized bias. It just never even occurred to me to think about the lack of women’s voices in sports commentary. I’m now trying to figure out if I’ve heard play-by-play announcers in college football, basketball, hockey, and other sports.
I am almost certain that I’ve heard women commentating on golf and I know for fact I’ve heard Chris Evert doing so for men’s tennis matches.
I don’t want to discuss the idea that perhaps no woman was qualified to do the job up until now. That might be true, I’m skeptical, but it could be so. I’m also not here to argue we must have more women in the broadcasting booth, although certainly there should be. I’m here to admit my ignorance.
How many of you were aware that only one woman ever called an NFL game? I’d be surprised if it was common knowledge. I wonder how many women were aware of this? More than men? Less? The same?
And yet it was right there for all to see. And I didn’t see it.
By Tom Liberman
Tom Liberman is a regular fellow from St. Louis, Mo., who enjoys spending time with his wonderful family and great friends. He writes Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels in his spare time.