Oh, I’m sure your boyfriend really loves his sports.”
That’s what the salesman said to me when my boyfriend Charles and I signed up for DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket a few weeks ago.
It’s 2019 and people are still assuming just because he’s a man he loves sports and I’m a woman so I couldn’t possibly? That’s ridiculous. I thought we were past that.
Charles does love his sports; don’t get me wrong. The man can go on and on about Alabama football as if I care, and he knows more about the NFL than I ever thought possible.
But really? The salesman assumed because I’m a woman, I couldn’t love sports. We could only be signing up for the Sunday Ticket so the man could watch his football games.
It’s National Women’s Equality Day on Monday, and we at The Herald have been talking about incredible women around the community who are working in fields typically thought of as a man’s job. We talked about a lady who owns a construction company in Dadeville and the athletic director at Benjamin Russell then it occurred to me, “Hey, I kinda work in a man’s world.”
It doesn’t even occur to me anymore really. Sports are a part of my life. They always have been. I wrote on Mother’s Day about my mom who’s a sports fanatic and who taught me to be whomever I wanted to be. I’ve also been in this business for nearly a decade and am currently in my 11th straight season covering high school football.
I don’t think of it as a man’s world; I think of it as my world.
But it is important to remember it hasn’t always been that way and there are still struggles today, even for myself. Probably the worst thing I’ve come across in my profession is the amount of times I’ve been flirted with or asked out while doing my job. A guy once asked me to have dinner with him at McDonald’s while I was writing a baseball story two hours from home on a late-night deadline. There were so many things wrong with that scenario.
I’ve also had student-athletes yell, “Ask her out!” when I’m interviewing one of their teammates and I’ve been catcalled from across locker rooms.
I’ve been told I should “stick to what I know” … Because a woman who’s studied sports for half her life apparently doesn’t know things, in some people’s eyes.
Referees and officials have asked me to move from a place where reporters and photographers are allowed to be in a game because they “wouldn’t want a pretty lady like me getting hurt.” I’ve been explained basic concepts by football coaches who I’m sure wouldn’t tell a man what a run-pass option is.
I don’t take offense to much so I let a lot of it slide. Many coaches apologize for cursing around me, which I appreciate, but trust me I’ve heard a lot worse stalking these sidelines year after year. I’ve been around enough high school boys to know they don’t usually think before they speak, and I’m lucky because I’m worked around some truly great kids especially these past two years.
But just because I don’t take offense to many things doesn’t mean it’s right. A female sports reporter or photographer should be treated no differently than any others. If you see one of us on your sideline, don’t ask how we got stuck on the sports beat for the night. Don’t assume the “regular guy called out.”
And please don’t think just because someone is a woman — whether she knows sports as well as me or not — can’t scream at the TV just as loud as her boyfriend on Sunday afternoons watching her favorite team. We are, after all, not that different.
Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor of The Herald.