As live events return, the Game Changers conference brought people together in New York City to discuss women’s sports and women in sports. Diverse perspectives were presented on things ranging from trailblazers to corporate sponsorship to mentorship. Several women shared their paths to the executive suite, and former tennis pro turned executive Katrina Adams gave an insightful presentation about being the first in various aspects of sports.
The session titled “State of Women’s Sports: The Media’s Perspective,” was moderated by Shira Springer, lecturer in journalism at the Boston University College of Communication, and featured Rachel Bachman, senior sports reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and Paola Boivin, professor of practice at Arizona State University, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Bachman said sports journalists should cover women’s sports on a regular basis, not just when big stories, such as recent claims of abuse in the National Women’s Soccer League, arise. “There are all kinds of opportunities to include women’s sports,” said Bachman. She mentioned a recent WSJ article about licensing, which included the WNBA. “If it’s making news, it’s our responsibility to cover that.”
“Sports journalists have a responsibility to find stories beyond the sensational ones,” said Boivin. “Sports journalists need to take that responsibility of looking harder with women’s sports, finding those stories and telling them. Then, I also think having maybe more women in leadership positions in sports journalism would help too.”
Springer asked Bachman and Boivin what the most important stories currently are in women’s sports. Bachman mentioned the U.S. women’s national soccer team and the way they’ve built a following. “Then, of course, filing a gender discrimination lawsuit attracted even more attention and really inspired many women around the globe,” Bachman said.
Boivin noted that journalists cannot stop following stories of sexual abuse in athletics. “Not just in gymnastics, but these stories are obviously surfacing in sports all over the world,” she said. “That’s a story as tough as it is, we need to continue to stay on top of.”
Exploring the challenges at the lower levels of women’s sports also intrigues Boivin and she hopes more people start writing about it. This would include retaining girls and women in sports.
Bachman mentioned that Phoenix Mercury players refused to do media after their loss in the fourth and deciding game of the WNBA Finals, for which the league fined the team $10,000 for violating league rules governing postgame media interview access. “Professionally, there should be expectations. I actually saw that as a good sign,” Bachman said.