Study Finds ESPN Leading Sports Media’s Gender & Racial Diversification
“Sports media at large made little progress towards a more diverse workplace as white-male influences are still dominant.”
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released a report card detailing race and gender among sports media recently for the first time since 2018. Dr. Richard Lapchick and his team at the University of Central Florida put together the report. Lapchick is the endowed chair at UCF’s Devos Sport Business Management Program.
Sports media at large made little progress towards a more diverse workplace as white, male influences are still dominant.
The 2021 Sports Media Racial and Gender Report Card: Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) Racial and Gender Report Card showed minor improvements for the organization compared to 2018. APSE improved on its racial grade with a B-plus but still received an F in gender grade.
“We need more women in this industry,” former APSE president Lisa Wilson said in an ESPN article. “We need those voices. We need that perspective. We need them making coverage and hiring decisions.”
Racial demographics showed a much larger improvement across the board in a few key areas. Something the Rainbow PUSH Coalition has been hard at work to change.
“The stories that are being told should reflect those on the field as well as the audiences that they reach,” The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said to ESPN. “Dr. Lapchick’s report indicates there has been some progress, but the sports media world is still overwhelmingly white and male.”
Lapchick noted that ESPN is a big driver in sports media’s racial and gender equity growth, so much so that removing ESPN from the equation massively impacts diversity across the industry.
Removing ESPN from the study brings the total female percentage of sports editors from 16.7% to 13.5% and columnists from 17.8% to 13.8%. The same is true on the racial side of the equation.
Taking ESPN out of the data completely, means sports editors of color would decrease from 20.8% to 18.9%, assistant sports editors from 27.7% to 22.7%, columnists from 22.9% to 18.1%, reporters from 22.9% to 22.5%, and total staffs from 23.5% to 22.0%.
ESPN takes plenty of heat in sports media circles, but they deserve a lot of respect and acknowledgment for how they have tried to level the playing field with their gender and racial hiring practices.
Check out the full report here.
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.com.
Dan Le Batard: ‘Does Sports Media Care if Interviews Are Done Well?’
“An exclusive interview with Ja Morant, who hasn’t talked to anybody after his controversy, is going to get eyeballs, so it doesn’t matter how good it actually is.”
Mike Greenberg had praise for Jalen Rose this week. He said that no one but his ESPN colleague could have handled the interview with Ja Morant that has been airing on the network. Dan Le Batard has the exact opposite opinion of what he saw.
“What I saw was soft and didn’t seem to serve anybody except ESPN,” Le Batard said on his Thursday show. “This seems to be a lot of people around the economy of basketball and Ja Morant orchestrating an interview so Ja Morant can move onto the next stage of his branding.”
Whereas Greenberg thought the shared experience of an NBA career made Rose more likely to get answers from Morant, Le Batard said it created a problem. He accused Rose of letting Morant get away with using “talking points” in lieu of answering any actual questions about the string of erratic behavior and disturbing incidents the Memphis Grizzlies star has been involved with.
It wasn’t the only interview that Dan Le Batard pointed to. He noted that Pat McAfee’s interview with Aaron Rodgers may have drawn an audience of nearly half a million, but very little substance was offered.
“Does anybody in the audience, in sports fandom, or even, at this point, in sports media companies, care in a real and legitimate way whether the interview is done well or not?”
He added that the standard has changed for these interviews because the goal has changed. They are no longer about journalism as much as they are about branding, particularly in the case of ESPN’s exclusive interview with Ja Morant.
“An exclusive interview with Ja Morant, who hasn’t talked to anybody after his controversy, is going to get eyeballs, so it doesn’t matter how good it actually is,” Le Batard concluded. “All you need, if you’re the media partner, is please get me the famous guy to sit down.”
Jomboy, Aaron Boone Partner For Weekly Podcast Appearance
“I thought it was a really interesting opportunity, and a cool idea. These guys have been innovators in this business and they’ve built a massive, young following.”
It isn’t unusual for a professional sports team to partner with a local radio station for weekly interviews with team personnel. Even though Jomboy Media is a digital outlet, it didn’t stop the company from inking a deal to have Yankees manager Aaron Boone on one of its signature podcasts.
In a move announced Thursday, Jomboy Media has signed a deal for Boone to appear on its popular Talkin’ Yanks podcast — hosted by founder Jimmy O’Brien and Jake Storiale — once a week throughout the baseball season.
“I thought it was a really interesting opportunity, and a cool idea. These guys have been innovators in this business and they’ve built a massive, young following,” Boone told The New York Post. “I think Jimmy and Jake are both really good guys. And they’re passionate about what they do, and they love the Yankees. And, sometimes they’re a little misguided and it’s my chance to set the record straight every now and then.”
Previously, Boone had a weekly spot on 98.7 ESPN New York’s The Michael Kay Show, which reportedly paid him six figures.
“It’s going to be really fun and it kind of goes with the changing landscape of media,” O’Brien said. “The fact that two fans can create a show and in five years get to the point where they get to ask questions to the manager of the Yankees and bring whatever insight we can get out of that to our audience — it is pretty wild, a little surreal.”
Sports Media Reacts to Aaron Rodgers Telling Adam Schefter ‘Lose My Number’
“Here are some of the best responses from Schefter’s sports media colleagues to the tweet.”
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers appeared on The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday and revealed that if he gets his way, his time with the Green Bay Packers is done. He intends to play for the New York Jets in 2023.
Rodgers told McAfee that the hang-up lies with Green Bay, which is trying to determine the appropriate compensation for trading for a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Rodgers also revealed that he had an interaction with ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter. Schefter, who was obviously digging as much as he could to get the scoop on what was going on with Rodgers’ future, texted Rodgers trying to confirm the information he had.
“I didn’t respond to Dianna Russini I think her name is,” Rodgers said. “But I would say the same thing that I told Schefty. Lose my number. Nice try.”
Upon hearing Rodgers’ account, Schefter followed up with a screenshot of Rodgers responding exactly how he said, and that sent social media into a whirlwind.
Here are some of the best responses from Schefter’s sports media colleagues to the tweet:
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.