MA in Sports Journalism at St Mary's University

Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

International Women’s Day: Sports Gazette’s starting XI of female sports journalists

In results released from a 2018 report from Women in Sport, they found that women make up just over 10% of the sports journalism industry, and 40% of them feel that they still face discrimination because of their sex.

Some found that it took them far longer to gain credibility and be taken seriously in sport compared to their male colleagues.

But, where do we start with some of the top female sports journalists of all time who have broken this trend and earned the respect that women deserve in sports journalism?

There have been many amazing women who have challenged the ‘status quo’ that it is an industry belonging to the male. What better way to celebrate their contributions than on International Women’s Day.

GK: Jacqui Oatley

Jacqui Oatley is the safety net of women’s involvement in football reporting.

Taking her place as the first female commentator on flagship BBC programme Match of the Day, she also is an ambassador for Women in Football, and, to prove she knows the rules to which the game is governed, she is a qualified FA coach herself.

She covers both men and women’s football, has fronted ITV and the BBC, including presenting ITV’s coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and continues to push for women’s involvement in this wonderful sport which gets the nation talking.

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RB: Suzi Perry

Suzi Perry is at right back for her contribution to women involved in motorsport. After breaking into Sky Sports in 1997, she was presenting her own shows just a year later.

She then joined the BBC and presented their MotoGP coverage for 13 years, becaming the UK’s first ever female F1 TV anchor with them.

In 2016, she was recruited by BT Sport and has since helped present coverage of a range of motorsport, including MotoGP, speedway and the World Rally Championship. She still hosts her own BBC2 Radio Show, ‘Suzi Perry’s Formula 1 Anthems.’

CB: Clare Balding OBE

Holding the line at centre back is BAFTA-winning Clare Balding OBE. From niche sports to mainstream national coverage, she is everywhere.

As a former jockey herself, she moved into journalism and went on to lead the BBC’s horse racing coverage in 1998. Since then, she has become a regular face of the BBC, working on six Olympic games, five Paralympic games and five Winter Olympic games.

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Balding has fronted Channel 4’s coverage of the European Olympic games, and most recently, from 2013, has her own show on BT Sport, interviewing some of the biggest names in sport.

CB: Alison Kervin

Also at centre back, Alison Kervin, Sports Editor of the Mail on Sunday, deservedly takes her place.

Appointed as the first ever female sports editor of a major national newspaper in 2013, she exerts her sports knowledge both on and off the sports field.

She was the first ever female to referee at Twickenham in 1991, has had columns in The Times and The Daily Telegraph and is a successful novelist.

She has written well known books including ‘Thirty Bullies, A History of the Rugby World Cup’ as well as biographies — including that of former rugby union player and coach Clive Woodward — and is widely respected in the sports world.

LB: Julie Welch

At left back, Julie Welch takes to the pitch. At the age of 70, she can look back on her career as a key contributor to women in sport.

She was the first ever female Fleet Street sports journalist to report on a football match in 1969 – between Coventry Town and Tottenham Hotspur.

Despite facing a lot of scrutiny for her involvement in football for being a woman — with many reading her work and assuming that she must be a man — she shut down criticism and is an inspiration to all.

Her book ‘Those Glory Glory Days,’ published in 1983, describes her childhood love of football, and is testament that girls can play and enjoy football from a young age.

RM: Martha Kelner

Starting at the Daily Mail before becoming the Guardian’s chief sports reporter, and now with Sky News as their Sports Correspondent, Martha Kelner has cracked the broadcasting world.

In a short space of time, she’s broken many new sports stories including Chris Froome and his failed doping test. Most recently, she investigated the plane crash of footballer Emiliano Sala from Argentina and France as experts say that the crash was completely avoidable.

She gathered unknown information about the abnormality of the owners of the flight as soon as the dreadful crash happened. And, really, she’s only just getting started.

CM: Alex Hammond

Having been a familiar face on Sky Sports News’s ‘Good Morning Sports Fans’ show from 6am on weekdays, Alex Hammond has been employed at Sky for over 16 years and has had a major impact on pushing horse racing onto the agenda.

She began her presenting career on ‘The Racing Channel’ and has always had a love for everything equine. As of January this year, she is one of the lead presenters for Sky Sports Racing, in the hope of broadening Sky’s coverage and widening the racing audience.

CM: Eniola Aluko

Eniola Aluko currently plays for Juventus, has been capped 102 times for England, and is a Guardian columnist.

She was widely praised for her FIFA World Cup coverage in Rio de Janeiro with ITV in 2014, and also played a pivotal role in the BBC’s coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as a studio pundit.

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Her articles appear on the Guardian every Thursday and Friday where she shares her views and experiences of football.

LM: Vicki Sparks

Vicki Sparks, a BBC legend who has consistently pushed for the coverage of women’s football to be put on the BBC agenda.

Additionally, Sparks was part of the BBC’s team covering the World Cup in Russia in 2018, being the first ever female commentator for a live TV world cup match, voicing the BBC’s coverage of Portugal vs Morocco on 20th June 2018.

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As well as fighting off sexist remarks, such as David Moyes telling her after a question that she needs to be careful as ‘she still might get a slap even though she’s a woman’, and getting told her voice is ‘too high pitched for commentary,’ Sparks remains an inspiration for women wanting equality in the sports world.

ST: Gabby Logan

Daughter to footballer Terry Yorath, Gabby Logan says that watching him at matches developed her love for the game.

While at Durham University, she presented on Newcastle’s Metro, where she got recognised and scouted out by Sky Sports at only 23 years of age.

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She has since worked at the ITV, fronting her own show ‘On The Ball,’ and being the face of their UEFA Champions League coverage.

Then she moved on to the BBC, where she occasionally steps in for Gary Lineker on Match of the Day, and covers all sports from darts to athletics to rugby.

ST: Alex Scott

We have to have Alex Scott, a pioneer in a new era for women in football.

Alex Scott played for Arsenal and got 120 caps for England and she’s now the first female pundit on Sky Sports’ Super Sunday, making her debut alongside Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness in August 2018.

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As a former footballer herself, she brings out things in her interviewees which not many other interviewers can.

Despite being subjected to massive scrutiny by those who think she is not fit to commentate as a woman, Scott has defied sexist remarks and shown she knows exactly what she is talking about in the game.

Featured photograph/ Martin Godwin, The Guardian

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