Charles Barkley's SI interview with Richard Deitsch continues to make headlines. Earlier this week, Deitsch led his media column a note that Barkley was considering leaving TNT before the end of his current contract to move on to a new challenge. In a full interview published Wednesday, the always outspoken Barkley had a very brunt critique of the business and sideline reporting in particular.
Notably, Barkley speaks of discriminataion in sideline reporting and says "If you are an ugly woman, you have no chance of getting a TV job." Here's the full exchange…
SI.com: How do you view sideline reporters on a broadcast?
Barkley: I don't like sideline reporters at halftime because you're asking coaches questions, and they are pissed off most of the time. Anything can happen when you are mad like that, especially if your team is getting its butt kicked. It's always easy to interview the guy who is winning, but if you are getting your butt kicked, it's a very awkward situation. You haven't even had a chance to digest what you've been bad at, and they are asking what you have been bad at!
SI.com: That's why I love interviews with Gregg Popovich. He's great television when he makes reporters uncomfortable.
Barkley: Oh, he's great. But I will tell you one form of discrimination no one ever talks about regarding sideline reporters.
SI.com: What's that?
Barkley: If you are an ugly woman, you have no chance of getting a TV job.
SI.com: But if you dress like Craig Sager, you can still get hired, right?
Barkley: Hey, I think you have to dress like Sager to get a job now. I will say this: They have hot, great-looking women on TV now. But if you are an ugly woman, you ain't got no chance of getting a TV job.
While there might be a certain gravitas and sensitivity missing from Barkley's responses, he's right on the money as usual. There's a complete and total double standard in sports broadcasting. Men are solely judged on their competence on the job. Women are judged by their abilities and their attractiveness.
Aside from making fun of Craig Sager's wardrobe, or wondering about John Clayton's ponytail, when was the last time you heard anyone talk about a man's looks when he's filing a report? There's no message board chatter about Dan Patrick's hair or questions about whether or not Kirk Herbstreit had some work done. There's no tweets about whether or not Chris Berman has put on a couple pounds. There's no reaction to how Brent Musburger or Dick Stockton or Hubie Brown have aged physically.
But the same, of course, isn't true about women in the business. An average looking man doesn't face the uphill playing field an average looking woman would. Furthermore, women are probably judged by fans moreso for their looks than their abilities. This is no secret. Just take a look at some of these Yahoo search results. I took three prominent females and three prominent males to see what search terms came up after their names. The results shouldn't surprise you.
Will it ever change? Hopefully some day. Hopefully some day the male-dominated industry and sports fandom isn't as totally shallow as it is now and everyone is given a fair shot based on their talent. But it's certainly a present reality, and Barkley is one of the few men on the inside to bring it to light.