Ode to the first female Pro Football Hall of Famer

February 3rd, 2007

Lesley VisserI have a dirty little feminist secret: I recently became a football fan. I blame my boyfriend, who’s been working on me for three years. So in honor of the Stupor Bowl this weekend, I thought I’d call your attention to this Women’s eNews piece on Lesley Visser, who’s made numerous firsts in sports journalism and was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (a first for a woman).

Some of the other firsts Visser’s achieved in her 34-year-career:

  • First female print sports journalist assigned to cover the National Football League beat for a major U.S. newspaper (1976)
  • First woman to appear on TV’s “Monday Night Football” as a sideline reporter (1997)
  • First woman assigned to a Super Bowl sideline as an on-the-field reporter (2000)
  • First female sportscaster to carry the Olympic torch (in 2004)

And in case you’re wondering just how few women work in sports journalism, Women’s eNews has the stats:

A June 2006 report on more than 300 newspapers by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida found that women make up an average of 13 percent of newspaper sports departments — sports editors, assistant editors, columnists and reporters — even though 40 percent of high school and university athletes are women. Ninety percent of the papers surveyed have men as sports editors.

A 2002 study by the Washington-based Radio-Television News Directors Association and Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., found that women were only 8 percent of television reporters and anchors.

Since I can’t say “Go, Seahawks!” this Sunday, I’ll just say “Go, Lesley!”

Entry Filed under: Glass ceiling

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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