Sports Journalism is a career that allows reporters to be on the front lines of big games and cover big time athletes. However, the landscape of sports journalism is mostly made up of male reporters and anchors. Throughout the years, more women have earned their place in sports journalism. They have risen through the ranks to lead some sports departments. Simone Eli is currently the sports director at WRBL’s sister station WKRG in Mobile, Alabama and she’s the first female sports director in the station’s history.
“To have the opportunity to really call this my own when it comes to the department, and to be able to lead our sports coverage really means a lot to me. It’s something early on in your career, you dream about, you hope about that you’ll get the big chair,” said Eli.
WRBL’s sister station in Huntsville, Alabama WHNT is led by Olivia Whitmire. She is the second female in the station’s history to have that position. She also leads an all female sports department.
“To be only the second female at my station to be presented with this opportunity. And now to have the opportunity to have the first ever all female sports department that’s something that’s really special to me,” said Whitmire.
Claudia Chakamian is WHNT’s weekend sports anchor and reporter. She’s teamed with Olivia Whitmire in an all female sports department. It’s a great milestone to recognize, and it was something that Claudia didn’t think was possible at first. However the leadership at WHNT made it clear they wanted the two best people in their sports department.
“I think I remember asking is there a concern about being an all female sports department? Like I asked the news director ‘What do you think of that?’ and he was like I don’t really care who it is as long as you’re good at your job,” said Chakamian.
While these women have proven their place in sports journalism, they’ve run into doubters in their career.
“A lot of men sometimes unfortunately think you know women don’t belong in this industry. I’ve had that told to me before, but they don’t matter,” said Chakamian.
“From viewers certainly comments on social media. Like hey I want to see a man delivering my sports,” said Eli.
Despite those doubts, these women continued to thrive in their sports coverage. Some consistent traits among all the women is they have stayed true to their passion and constantly relied on their work ethic.
“You’ve got to be passionate. You’ve got to love what you do. That’s what defines you. Your work ethic. Your love for what you do. You can see when you truly love it,” said Chakamian.
Our sister station in Birmingham, Alabama WIAT has Taylor Kauffman as a sports anchor and reporter. She believes one of the most important things any reporter can do is seek opportunities for themselves.
“The answer is always no unless you ask. Sometimes you’re only going to get better if you ask for opportunities, and so put yourself there,” said Kauffman.
Sports Directors Simone Eli and Olivia Whitmire want women to always believe they belong in sports journalism and to stay focused.
“We belong- here on the fields, in the locker rooms telling these stories regardless of what the sports are,” said Eli.
“You just got to keep your eyes focused on you know what you want to do and don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t,” said Whitmire.