Late-night TV Thursday saw an unusual reunion, and one that provided some much-needed sports commentary. Amy Poehler appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers to bring back the duo’s famed “Really?” segment from Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update, focusing on Sports Illustrated and The MMQB writer Andy Benoit’s ill-advised tweet about “women’s sports in general not worth watching.” Here’s what Seth and Amy had to say about Benoit:

That’s a pretty great segment, and one with a lot of valid points. Poehler’s shot at SI and its Swimsuit Issue is particularly good: “I guess I’m not surprised that you work for Sports Illustrated. You guys put out a Swimsuit Issue every year dedicated entirely to women who aren’t in sports, unless you think that it’s a sport to cover both boobs with one arm.” It even leads to a nice “Do you believe in miracles?” reference, and a later shot from Poehler at NBC for its pre-Kentucky Derby coverage (funny considering both that Meyers’ show is on NBC, and that Poehler was a long-time star for the network on Parks and Recreation). We don’t usually see sports media coverage discussed on late-night talk shows, but this was a stellar example of some of the humor that’s possible with it. (Also, it meant we got to see Seth and Amy do “Really?” again, so maybe we should all be thanking Benoit for his hot sports takes.) However, there’s a larger point here beyond just laughing at Poehler and Meyers skillfully mocking Benoit.

It’s worth noting that it is possible to create a lot of interest in women’s sports, as shown by the incredible ratings the Women’s World Cup is drawing. However, there are still plenty of people like Benoit in the sports media world who seem ready to write off women’s sports on principle. ESPN’s Jane McManus made some excellent points on Twitter Thursday about how it’s great to see outside disdain for that view from the late-night talk world, and how that hopefully might cause some minds to change inside sports media circles:

McManus is very right there. While individual preferences don’t dictate all of sports coverage, they can impact what publications focus on, and that media interest in turn helps impact the ratings or lack thereof. Market-minded people might say women’s sports aren’t covered as heavily because there isn’t as much interest in them, but as McManus pointed out later, that’s a chicken-and-the-egg argument.

It can’t ever be resolved exactly how much interest dictates coverage or coverage dictates interest, but it’s notable that when organizations have invested heavily in women’s sports (as Fox has done with this Women’s World Cup, employing their own announcers for each match, extensive lists of panelists and anchors, a fancy new Vancouver set and constant promotion of the event), they’ve often reaped the rewards. The comments from Meyers and Poehler help point out how absurd it is to completely write off women’s sports. However, while Benoit did so in a foolish and prominent way that made him an easy target, it’s worth noting, as McManus does, that many people in powerful programming and editing positions throughout the sports world often show a similar disregard for women’s sports. They may not vocalize it to the public, and they may not suffer public ridicule, but their decisions speak volumes. Hopefully the criticism of Benoit and the success of the Women’s World Cup can help change some minds and convince both executives and viewers that women’s sports shouldn’t be disregarded. 

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.

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