For as long as I can remember, sports have always been a key part of my life. Whether that be
annoying my big brother during Super Bowl XLII or delighting in watching Kobe Bryant pick
defenders a part, I was always involved in athletics. Growing up, I played basketball and softball
and while I was alright at both, I shined best whenever I was writing. When my classmates
groaned and moaned about writing assignments, I usually was enthusiastic. I always had journals
and diaries and when I had time to myself, I would come up with different entries and short
stories that I still enjoy looking back on today. Even though at times it was difficult to speak, I
could always write things down and feel a bit of release. So, naturally with my passion for sports
and affinity for writing, I wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to do both, which brought
me to sports journalism.
I knew as much if not more than my male counterparts and not only could I argue my points, but
I knew the stats and figures to back up any of my stances. Even today, when I am having a sports
debate with someone, you’ll never catch me voicing an opinion that I don’t have a strong
argument for. So, when I got to the University of Memphis, it was easy to find a job with the
school newspaper, where I served as the beat reporter for the Tigers’ football, women’s
basketball and softball teams. While I loved the grind of covering games, practices, press
conferences and everything else the role of a sports reporter requires, I learned a fundamental
truth very early: This is a white man’s world and I’m just living in it.
Make no mistakes about it, I knew coming in that the bulk of sports reporters, especially
prominent ones, were white men. From ESPN, CBS, FOX, NFL Network, etc. I got used to
seeing white pundits and maybe one or two former black athletes who decided to pursue
broadcasting once they retired. I knew this was a white male dominated field, however, you
never really know until you go into the locker rooms. When you see dozens of black athletes
and maybe one or two black journalists (typically men) in a group of nosey reporters, crowding
to interview a player who would much rather do anything else with their time.
In 2021, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released a report card detailing
race and gender among sports media, the following are its findings:
79.2% of the sports editors were white and 83.3% were men.
72.0% of the assistant sports editors were white and 75.8% were men,
77.1% of columnists were white and 82.2% were men.
77.1% of the reporters were white and 85.6% were men.
77.0% of the copy editors/designers were white and 75.3% were men.
72.4% of web specialists were white and 78.1% were men.
Are you noticing a theme here?
Now, in no way is information or column in general meant to begrudge or take away from the
talent and efforts of white male journalists. Many are amazing at their jobs and I have had the
chance to learn quite a bit from them over the years. However, what I will attack is the notion
that they are the only ones who can thrive in this profession. I will attack the belief that
representation doesn’t matter to athletes in these locker room. Just as it is in every other area of
the world and in the workforce in particular, there is an unspoken sense of calm that comes from
being around like-minded people. People who have come from similar backgrounds, similar
surroundings or even who just look like you. I would argue that in the world of sports, that
unspoken connection is especially important for athletes. In the days when athletes were kneeling
for the national anthem to protest police brutality or wore ‘I Can’t Breathe’ t-shirts during pre-
game warmups, there were a contingent of white reports who took offense to these peaceful
demonstrations. ‘What in the world could this millionaires have to complain about? They’re not
educated enough to speak on this topic, so how about they just shut up and dribble?’
In addition to these overtly racist undertones was yet another reminder of a disconnect that
comes from those who live very different lives. Expecting someone who’s lived a comfortable
middle-class life to fully understand what someone who grew up in the projects is going through
is unrealistic. Expecting someone who’s never felt uneasy around the police to sympathize with
those who are harassed by law enforcement constantly is unrealistic. While there is certainly
empathy among people in our nation, that can only take you so far. The white liberals of the Civil
Rights Movement were empathetic to the plight of the Negroes too, but they also disapproved of
them from getting to rowdy or participating in any civic disobedience.
As a double minority in my field, I take my position seriously even if to others it doesn’t seem
like a job that requires too much thought. It’s so much more than just going to games for free and
writing about them. I view my job as a way of connecting the sports we love to the communities
I serve. I believe my responsibility as a journalist is to not only provide valuable information to
readers, viewers, supporters, etc, but to tell the stories of those I am in contact with. In those
locker rooms, I’m not just Raven the writer, I’m someone looking to build those connections
because these athletes aren’t superheroes to me. They’re human beings who just have a bit more
God-given ability than the next person. They’re sons, husbands, brothers, who the world thinks
they can throw away when they make a costly mistake in a game or aren’t as productive
athletically as they were in their twenties. Being black, I can understand many players’ tendency
to hide themselves in the presence of media in order to avoid their words and actions being
misconstrued and used against them. Now, just imagine how different sports coverage would be
if more people could say that. By Raven Moore [email protected]