An All-Female MLB Broadcast Crew Shouldn’t Be a Big Deal, But It Is
The all-women crew working the Orioles-Rays game will make history tonight
Tonight, when the Baltimore Orioles take on the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, the broadcast team working the game will make history as the first all-female team providing coverage of an MLB game.
Melanie Newman, broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles, will handle the play-by-play duties, while Sarah Langs will provide color commentary for MLB’s Game of the Week Live on YouTube beginning at 7 p.m. EST. Alanna Rizzo will be the game’s on-field reporter, and the pre- and post-game hosts will be Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner.
Of course, five women working an MLB game at the same time shouldn’t be a big deal in the year 2021, but it is. Baseball remains largely a boy’s club — one where women just trying to do their jobs are routinely harassed or even raped — and the fact that it’s taken this long for it to happen is, frankly, shameful.
“We’re not alone in saying that it’s surprising that it has taken this long for it to open up a little bit more in terms of diversity,” Newman told NPR.
“It’s crazy that we’re still doing all these firsts,” she continued. “I feel like that’s been most of my career has been first female this, first female that. But the good thing about it is we’re not the last.”
That’s the exciting part of all this; as frustrating as it is that it took this long for MLB broadcasting’s glass ceiling to be broken in this way, now that it’s finally happening, the door has been opened for more women to follow in their footsteps. One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, an all-female broadcast team during a baseball game won’t be noteworthy at all — it’ll be commonplace.
“I think it’s really changing, I really do believe that,” Watney said in recent appearance on CNBC’s The News with Shepard Smith. “I’m not just saying that because I’m out here as someone who kind of feels like I’m a spokesperson for MLB, being on the network side of things. I feel that, in the game, even from when I became the Red Sox reporter in 2008, until now, there’s been a big change in the game.”
There is, of course, still a long way to go. Women reporting on baseball games have often faced even harsher scrutiny than their peers handling other sports, thanks in part to the fact that most women don’t have the opportunity to play baseball (either as a kid or at an elite level), and many who grew up loving the game played softball instead. “How can they be an expert in the game if they’ve never played it?” is a common argument made by sexist idiots who fail to understand that there are scores of male MLB broadcasters whose own baseball-playing experience doesn’t extend beyond Little League or high school. The NHL, NBA and NFL have all already had all-female announcing and production teams in recent years. Factor in baseball’s very real sexual harassment problem, and it’s clear the sport is lagging behind in a big way when it comes to gender parity and overall treatment of women.
Still, representation matters, and the fact that young girls will be able to watch these women make history on YouTube tonight is inspiring. Maybe in a decade or two, they’ll be able to look back on it and marvel at how antiquated things used to be.
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