Why Are Most of Football's Sideline Reporters Women?

I know, I know, football season is over (sadly), but a reader named Tom Hefferon has written in with a question:

If college and professional football are the unique and entire domain of male athletes, such that former players are most likely the most knowledgeable as to the game’s nuances both on and off the field, why is it that, while all the off-field commentary is also male-dominated, all the on-field interviewing and commentary is done by females who never touched a football, let alone played a down? It seems odd to me and I suspect an explanation would only be found in your good devices.

There are surely a few exceptions — Tony Siragusa comes to mind — but Tom has a point. I’d be interested to know what the networks that carry football know about the appeal of their sideline reporters, but in the absence of such knowledge, I’ll hazard a few guesses:

  • One network put a female reporter on the sideline and (whether it was “effective” or not), the others followed.
  • The networks wish to appear to not be sexist by having an all-male crew broadcast crew.
  • Female reporters are meant to appeal to the heavily male audience — and/or engage the (growing) female minority?
  • Sideline reporters aren’t meant to elicit strategy and in-depth information in interviews as much as the players’ and coaches’ emotions, personality, etc., and women are better (or the networks think women are better) at eliciting same.

Your thoughts?


Mark

I have always assumed these women were meant to be eye candy...for lack of a more PC term.

luls

luls!

Q

And they're all relatively attractive? Huh, I wonder why that is. The truth is that the vast majority of sideline reporters offer almost nothing to the broadcast and rather than doing away with the position it's being slowly transitioned from ex-players to eye candy. There might be more current football sideline reporters with dance/cheer team experience than actual football experience.
All of this being said, I prefer Erin Andrews to Tony Siragusa, so I'm not complaining.

Adam

Generally speaking, all the "insight" the sideline reporter has is relayed to them from their producer who got it from the team's media people.

CBS doesn't even use sideline guys for their NFL coverage any more.

I've never hired one, but I'd guess that they are simply there to add some semblance of 'balance' to the gender equation.

Dr. Van Nostrand

While I consider most sideline reporter's commentary rather useless, Erin Andrews offers some pretty good insight... better than Tony Siragusa in all aspects

They don't really say much during the broadcast, are they reporting to the booth when not on the air?

George

Some are attractive, but there are plenty who aren't (or, couldn't really be classified as "eye candy").

I assume that networks want their broadcasts teams to be diverse, and they (probably rightly) believe that making the sideline reporter female is the only way to achieve gender diversity.

Linda

A blonde's way to payback for male ob/gynecologists?

LPB

Eye-candy plus diversity; anyone can read the questions and it's the analysts who analyze the answers, no knowledge of the game is required.

But also:

The biggest thing the sideline reporters do in college games is ask the coaches questions at halftime; usually one coach as half-time begins and the other as 2nd half play is about to resume.

The coaches are required to do this, but I wonder whether someone at network feels they will have to be more civil about complying with this obligation, if not more forthcoming, with a woman.

Eric

I always figured that the people on the field who they have to interview (coaches and players) are more likely to stop their trip into the locker room and take two minutes to talk to an attractive woman than they would if it were a guy. Those interviews seem pretty pointless anyways, since the coach isn't about to reveal their secret strategy, and the player isn't really going to tell you anything all that interesting.

Joe

Are female reporters better at capturing the attention of the high profile athletes that the networks want interviews with?

Nosybear

They look better in skirts.

Mike

Is there anything sexier than a woman talking about sports?

Argentinean

I would also say that it is easier for nice hot sideline reporters to approach players on the bench and after the game and get attention in order to ask a few questions than if a guy would do that.

Robert

they are called 'bewbs' I think.

Rich

One point to make, at least in the NFL, other than the and of half/end of game interviews, the sideline reporters are being fed most of their information from producers off field. They are not actively engaging players/coaches anymore than any other fan watching in the stadium or on TV. This is why CBS does not use any outside of special games like this year's Super Bowl.

Kevin H

I always figured it was a combination of wanting to be able to say 'look we hire women.' But because this is a new movement, there aren't too many women with experience on the job yet.

A good test of that would be to see promotion rates from both men a women side line reporters and see if there is a gender gap.

Not Interested

It is not only football. Have you ever wondered why most weather people and on air reporters are increasingly women, generally very good looking women. And they even dress them in some pretty provocative ways on some programs.

News has become the new sex marketing place, and only good looking women need apply. Why not football? It is one of the reasons I no longer follow football.

Darcy

The reason is they want to keep the broadcast booth the old boys room and the pregame/postgame team a bunch of jocks horsin' around in the locker room. Because females are excluded from those two spheres, the only place left to offer "diversity" is the sideline reporter position. There she's safely isolated from the rest of the crew.

Why is it always two men in the broadcast booth? Nobody ever seems to bring this up as a controversy.

Kate

Tom Hefferon's question struck me as a bit...off. My guess is that he's from an older generation than myself. I am a woman in my early thirties, and when I was growing up my cousins and I would play touch football every weekend. So, at least in my neighborhood, there were many girls who not only touched footballs, but threw and kicked them as well. No, I never played on a "real" football team, but I've always been a fan of my schools' teams and can coach from the couch as well as anyone. Perhaps the female commentators are a reflection of the fact that women are a growing segment of the NFL's fanbase.

This being said, since when has personal experience ever stopped a professional journalist from covering a sporting event? My guess is that Bob Costas can't do a back handspring, but that shouldn't stop him from being able to interview Shawn Johnson.

John D

Players give longer interviews to attractive women.