Site Meter

When Women Talk Sports, Why Do Men Go Deaf?

The Sports reporting powerhouse that is Hannah Storm

If this is your first time reading this blog, I have an announcement to make. Ready?

I have a vagina!

Yes, it’s true. I have a vagina. I love men, and I hope to marry one some day. I also write a blog about football. I may or may not know what I’m talking about.

If you’re still reading, that’s good. That means you haven’t completely tuned me out.

I think every woman sports fan has gone through the frustrating (and even humiliating) experience of having a man openly challenge their knowledge of sports. In particular, their knowledge of the most popular and decidedly masculine ones: football, and men’s basketball and baseball. Men will challenge you no matter the space. Whether it’s on the internet or in a sports bar if you put a bra on that morning you are on fake fan or groupie watch.

My biggest irritation with it is that men don’t give other men the same treatment. Men don’t go out of their way to prove other men are ignorant about sports unless they are arguing about their favorite players or the chances of their favorite teams. Even then, there’s a certain level of respect afforded between men from the beginning is rarely, if ever, provided to women. I can’t figure out why men are so heavily invested in deconstructing the whats whens and hows of a woman’s sports acumen.

Not only do men want to prove you know about sports, they want to know if you know the history and why you know it. Did you play sports? Did you date an athlete? Were you a tomboy growing up?

In 1992, I watched my very first basketball game-Portland Trailblazers vs. Boston Celtics. I immediately became a basketball fanatic. I’ve encyclopedic knowledge about the NBA between the years of 1992-2001 when I lost interest. I watched football on and off during that time because I loved Jamal Anderson and Randall Cunningham (I’m still a huge Falcons and Eagles fan).

But it wasn’t until 2000 when Virginia Tech played Florida State in the Sugar bowl that I became obsessive about football and began to really learn the game from more than a casual perspective. It was so dramatic. Would FSU Coach Bobby Bowden suspend Peter Warrick for “stealing” from Dillard’s? Would Sebastian Janikowski play in the big game after missing curfew the night before? Would Ricky Hall play after hurting his foot? I was hooked. I followed the professional (sometimes short-lived) careers of then Virginia Tech QB Vick, Warrick, Janikowski, Lee Suggs, Chris Weinke and others and never looked back.

I bought the computer version of Madden, got cozy with a football player in college, and my love for the game has grown by the day ever since.

Over the years I have noticed time and time again that most men don’t know as much about sports as we’re supposed to believe they know. You engage with a man in a conversation about a sport, he “seems” knowledgeable, but 3 minutes later you realize that either his understanding of the sport doesn’t go beyond who he thinks “sucks” or he’s just not interested in discussing the subject with a woman. Usually it’s the former.

Unfortunately, he still gets the respect in a conversation and you don’t. [Men also seem to think that you should be flattered when they compliment your sports knowledge as if that means anything coming from someone who clearly doesn't know what the hell they're talking about!!]

On the surface this kind of sexism may not seem like a big deal, but as it pertains to opportunities for women in sports-whether in reporting or coaching-the idea that women are automatically to be questioned has ramifications beyond an offensive conversation between two individuals. Men’s attitudes about women sports reporters are part of the reason why there simply aren’t that many women on the national scene doing sports analysis. I fear a woman will never be allowed to call men’s basketball or football.

There’s only been one (that I know of) who has even been incorporated into the NBA’s halftime show as a LEAD-Hannah Storm during the 90s. Storm was my idol growing up back when I thought for sure I’d be a sports journalist. Storm is talented and her sports reporting has been stellar for almost 20 years. But to be fair, Storm is the daughter of the former head of the American Basketball Association. If not for her familial background, the most famous and accomplished women’s sports journalists may not be where she is today.

I distinctly remember an episode of the Prudential Halftime report (the late-90s name for the halftime show during basketball on NBC) when Storm was lead anchor with Bill Walton, Peter Vecsey and Isiah Thomas. The guys started arguing over something or other, and Storm cut in to say “Guys, let’s wrap it up, we gotta go to commercial.” And Bill Walton turned and looked her squarely in the face and said “Who put you in charge?”

Maybe the next time a man challenges me on my sports knowledge I will ask him the same thing.

Find a player or team

Posts By Year


Switch to our mobile site