This seems like a story more for Ladies…, but I’m going to take a stab at it (mainly because nothing else is happening in the world of AA today).

I shouldn’t be ashamed of this, but I’ve been watching the Women’s Tournament for the past couple of days. It’s not really for the basketball though…..even though Ivory Latta could probably run point for most of the Men’s teams in the nation.

Of course it’s for the announcing.

I always go in expecting the worse, and this time was no different. But something crazy happened. I actually enjoyed some of the commentary….especially during some of the worst basketball I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong. The Wisconsin Men’s team was no fun to watch either, but when the Tennessee Women’s team went on a 34-0 run….I would have normally turned the channel. Seriously….how is it even possible to go on a 34-0 run??? (Read the rest after the jump)

If you don’t know, the women’s tournament has a feature for the first round games called the “Whip-Around” where they switch back and forth between multiple games. It’s probably pretty annoying for regular fans, but for me it was perfect. I got to check out all of the announcers involved. Of course, Pam Ward was there, and newcomer Beth Mowins was featured in a game. I even caught a bit of Linda Cohn who was on some of the first round games.

But then something happened……

As I was “whipped” from game to game, and into the next set of evening action. I noticed less and less women until the point that I was transfixed on a country sounding analyst that sounded like the Rich Texan from the Simpsons. Not that he was bad, but he was about the tenth man I had heard in a row.

It amazed me that every single announcer within a Women’s Tournament was a man. So I did the research. 13 out of 16 Play by Players are men. That means 3 women are leads during the entire tournament. That’s right…..3.

Those 3 are the ones I mentioned above. I heard them the first day….in the first three games I was “whipped” to….and I haven’t heard them since. Sure Stacey Dales, and Kara Lawson are in the studio, but don’t you think they would have liked to do a game or two? I’ve read interviews where Dales says that’s what she ultimately wants to do, and even lists Bill Raftery as her favorite announcer.

So that seems odd right? That only 3 out of 16 are women. You probably are thinking that ESPN is sexist right??? Well wrong…..the people hiring the talent for the Women’s Tournament are both women!!!!

“There aren’t that many play-by-play women out there to choose from,” ESPN coordinating producer Tina Thornton said in March 2003. “My goal is to try to bring on as many as I can.”

“Every year we look at our roster and put the best people on the event,” ESPN senior director of programming Carol Stiff said Wednesday. “We’re always trying to develop new people, but we want to put the best people on the event. If that is male or female, those are the best people we’re going to put on the event.”

This is just beyond my comprehension. You have over 300 schools with talented people just begging for an opportunity, and you pick Mike Patrick as your lead? I guarantee you that he isn’t “the best person” for the event.

The local announcers are the ones who know about every player….every team…..and every nuance of the Women’s game. With all of the sexual harassment issues at ESPN these days you would think they would have made an effort to throw the Women a bone. But just like all of the studio shows they put the best analysts in a chair at halftime……I see them for about ten seconds, and then I switch to the episode of Deadliest Catch that I Tivo’d.

I may not care about the Women’s Tournament, but I’m sure someone does. And a channel with the money that ESPN has could have really made a difference. I’m convinced that a woman might even be better prepared for the job because she has to work that much harder to get the job in the first place. Why not give it a shot?


Only 3 Women are lead voices (Hartford Courant)

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