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Saturday, December 04, 2021

Women broadcasting professional sports shouldn’t be groundbreaking

Five women on-air in the broadcast booth is unheard of -- even in 2021

Alanna Rizzo, left, delivers a report before a 2018 game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies in Denver as then-Dodgers left fielder Matt Kemp looks on. Rizzo on Tuesday night will be part of Major League Baseball’s first all-female broadcasting crew. [ DAVID ZALUBOWSKI | AP ]
Alanna Rizzo, left, delivers a report before a 2018 game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies in Denver as then-Dodgers left fielder Matt Kemp looks on. Rizzo on Tuesday night will be part of Major League Baseball’s first all-female broadcasting crew. [ DAVID ZALUBOWSKI | AP ]

Melanie Newman, Sarah Langs, Alanna Rizzo, Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner will make “herstory” Tuesday as the first all-female broadcast team in the MLB, but this shouldn’t be groundbreaking.

The women will call the Tampa Bay Rays’ battle with the Baltimore Orioles at 7:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

Newman will tackle play-by-play, Langs will give analysis, Rizzo will act as the on-field reporter and Watney and Gardner will administer the pre and postgame shows. This on-air crew is reportedly the first all-women team for a major league game.

Women have been broadcasting baseball games for decades, so why is this the first time they’ve been granted the opportunity to run the show?

NBC’s Gayle Gardner became the first woman to host MLB games for a major television network in 1989

“I’ve always had a male play-by-play voice in my ear during every game I’ve ever done,” Rizzo said in an interview with The New York Times

The matchup will be shown exclusively on YouTube as part of the “MLB Game of the Week on YouTube,” rather than on a broadcast network like  MLB Network, Bally Sports Sun or the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

In a male-dominated industry, women unfortunately deal with these types of obstacles on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t have to be like this. 

Rizzo told the Tampa Bay Times she’s tired of hearing about “female firsts” in sports. 

“I think all we want is to have a level playing field, and I don’t want to be (given) preferential treatment,” she said. “I know these other four women doing this game don’t want preferential treatment, either.”

Across the board, the five have substantial knowledge and extensive resumes with regard to the sport of baseball. Gardner, Watney and Rizzo work for MLB Network, Lang reports for MLB.com and Newman works for the Orioles Broadcast Team.

Why did it take this long? Why only one game? Several other questions could be asked.  

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The MLB was established in 1869. One hundred fifty-two years ago. 

Young women everywhere will look back on this day and reminisce. In order to encourage aspiring young female journalists, this needs to become a recurring event. Representation matters.

“It's crazy that we're still doing all these firsts,” Newman said in an article with NPR. “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.”

Not to discredit these five game-changing women, but it’s 2021, we have to do better. Women belong in sports.

July 20, 2021, will go down in history. It shouldn’t. 

Contact Karina Wilson at kwilson@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @kk_rinaa.

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Karina Wilson

Karina Wilson is a second-year student at the University of Florida within the College of Journalism and Communications with a specialization in sports and media. She aims to produce engaging, accurate and current content for all types of sports fans. Currently, Karina is The Alligator's lacrosse beat writer.


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