Amanda Pendolino
July 16, 2013

Women’s Sports Doc ‘Let Them Wear Towels’ Airs Tonight on ESPN

Female reporters are a regular part of sports — but how far have we come?

Tonight, ESPN explores the history of women in sports as part of ESPN Films and espnW’s Nine for IX documentary series, which marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Check it out:

It’s clear we’ve made progress — but obstacles still stand in the way.

“The times have changed, and a female byline or broadcaster is no longer an anomaly,” writes Robin Herman, who was the only woman covering the NHL in the early 1970s. “The Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM), a group that formed 25 years ago, has close to 600 members who cover all kinds of sports, from NASCAR to international soccer to NCAA basketball to the major pro leagues. Since the 1980s, Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL have had policies in place making postgame locker room access universal for accredited reporters, male and female.”

But not everyone is on board. In April, Don Cherry, the longtime color commentator for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada said women don’t belong in men’s locker rooms. At least the NHL stood behind its open-access policy.

“But instead of being happy, I am irked,” Robin continues. “I am impatient. I am talking to the TV screen. The wind is blowing on the football field; the reporter is wrapped in a scarf and her words come out in frosted puffs above the mike she is holding in a gloved hand. She is on the sideline, and the men, only men, are up in the anchor booth analyzing the action below and joking among themselves.”

Let Them Wear Towels is just the beginning. The Nine For X series also includes No Limits (July 23), Swoopes (July 30), The Diplomat (August 6), Runner (August 13), The ’99ers (August 20) and Branded (August 27). Support these films about kickass female athletes and reporters, directed and produced by women! You can also join the conversation and tweet about the films using the hashtag #NineforIX .