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I’ve been following the blogosphere kerfluffle surrounding ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews from, well, the sidelines. It’s now been going on for a week, and it shows no sign of abating. In fact, it seems that far from going away, the tiff has started to gather steam.

As you all know by now, it all began with this column by Mike Nadel, supposedly about a Brewers-Cubs game. In case you didn’t have time to read it, the column is easily condensed as follows:

Erin Andrews is hot, blonde, and hot. When she walks around a clubhouse, I and most other men notice her because she is hot. And also blonde. She also has more personality than, say, an old dishrag. This abundance of personality and her demonstrably hot, blonde ways, in conjunction with the behavior of several pro athletes, leads me to the unassailable conclusion that she is a slattern. Blonde. Hot. Dress. Legs. Chicago Cubs. Blonde. Blonde.

The end.

Andrews, according to Nadel, is an “ESPN ‘it’ babe who clearly isn’t afraid to flaunt it” and “sauntered” and “flitted” around the Cubs clubhouse. But the difficulty for women as attractive as Erin Andrews is that they have to work pretty hard to not “flaunt it.” (I mean, she’s hot! It’s right there! Out in public where you can’t avoid seeing it!) And when you’re attractive and friendly, there’s always going to be some jackass who thinks you’re a floozy. It’s just a burden that we have to bear [sighs deeply, gazes into mirror, blows kiss at self].

The fact is, that while you see an occasionally funny-looking ESPN commentator, you never see a funny-looking female commentator on the Worldwide Leader, or for any other sports news outlet for that matter. But this isn’t a case, as many seem to think, of women getting jobs because they’re airheaded eye-candy. No, it’s just a case of female sports reporters needing to be superwomen in order to prove they belong. And in this case, that includes being just as knowledgeable about sports while also looking like supermodels. It just goes to show that even at the highest levels, women are still judged more by their appearance than they should be (remember the Hillary “cleavage” flap?). By criticizing Erin Andrews’ looks, Nadel is contributing to a problem, not, as he seems to think, exposing it.

Nonetheless, Nadel has since defended his column as newsorthy. (This just in: jocks make lewd comments when attractive women walk by.) Then Andrews said it was sad. And then commentators took sides.

Most of the ensuing hullabaloo has since veered away from the debate about whether Andrews’ appearance and behavior were worthy of comment at all, to a debate about whether her clothes were appropriate work attire. This seems like kind of a silly question to me given that the newspaper reporters picking on her probably work in jeans and old polo shirts. Andrews, of course, appears on-camera, and so has to clean up a little more than they do. But even if you take the view that Andrews’ dress-and-heels duds weren’t kosher, there’s nothing appropriate (or “refreshing“) about Nadel accusing her of “playing the sexpot.”

After all, if Nadel came to his profession with slightly different eyes, he could have easily taken the same set of facts and written a story about how even the most high-profile, skilled female sports reporters still get treated like sides of beef by some of the athletes they cover, and that maybe the problem is with the guys.

After all, people download Erin’s derrière even when she wears pants.

16 Responses to “Erin Andrews Uproar Lasts Longer Than Roy Halladay Outing”

  1. Alejandro Leal says:

    The problem will always reside with the dominant gender, as it determines the course of the discourse. In fact, feminism today is not what it used to be.

    Some women find empowering that they are attractive and smart, whether that is cause for patronizing from men, is a different story.

    I happen to think that Andrews’ approach as a woman who flaunts it exposes sexism, pinches its cheeks, taps it in the butt, and winks it good bye (that’s a crude way to say that she’s redefining sexism in spite of men’s tendencies to see figure first, then attributes).

    Dudes can’t get enough of Andrews, but they can’t pigeon-hole her. Better yet, we shouldn’t pigeon-hole her simply because some enjoy looking at her butt (I’ll include myself as I clicked on every single link in that last phrase). But the main difference is that when us dudes watch the game, we notice that she works hard, and she’s a great reporter. Her skills are indisputable.

  2. I really hate seeing sh-t about what a floozy she is, the same way I hate seeing sh-t about what a floozy Heidi Watney is. Sports media is and always will be an old boys network. I used to work in media (I won’t say the network, but let’s just say they are probably your cable provider) where, of course, no matter how high up the chain women got, the men could still be as drunk and sleazy with their colleagues as they wanted to, and it was tolerated because, well “that’s just Mike being Mike”. and if you worked with them, were under the age of 30, friendly, and didn’t have a hideous face, well naturally you got the job because you slept with someone.

    what I find sad though is that I also have seen the “Erin Andrews/Heidi Watney/any blonde working in media is a floozy” story often written by OTHER WOMEN. I don’t know what it is – jealousy? is it a blonde thing? – that makes us want to take down our own kind. But I for one will defend these women because a) I’m blonde, have worked in male-dominated professions before, and know what a mindfield it is and b) think these women have balls.

    furthermore, if ESPN has such an issue with spontaneous erections around the opposite sex, maybe they should either take the Levitra away from these guys or make their female employees wear burkas.

    sorry to ramble here. I just really fucking hate when penis runs the world.

  3. did I really just write “mindfield” up there? wow. I really need to go to bed.

  4. I read Nadel’s narrative of what he reportedly witnessed that evening in the Cubs’ locker room in Milwaukee. The first thing that crossed my mind was it seemed like a steaming pile of bullshit he had exaggerated and sensationalized in an attempt to demean Andrews. I think there wasn’t anyone in the room that was objectifying her more than he was. He attributed anonymous comments made by players that I felt may or may not have even occurred. There was something about the way he characterized things that seemed almost too stereotypical. “The dumb jocks gather round to drool over the hot chick.” I also don’t see what the story was from his vantage point. We can all see that she is a conventionally attractive looking female so should we be shocked that athletes might find her hot? In my opinion he didn’t have a story. I do question her credibility if in fact she is “flirting” with players to get access to the story. It makes me question her objectivity and her journalistic integrity if that is in fact what she is doing. Now, his column doesn’t really enlighten us on this one way or the other. There are male reporters that use their charisma and buddy approach to land interviews with athletes and they are compromising their credibility as well. The whole m.o. used by all ESPN reporters seems to be to take the “buddy” approach with the subjects of their stories that isn’t unique to Erin Andrews.

  5. But Sarah, the sideline reporter job was invented as an excuse to put hot chicks on camera (and to simultaneously give the impression that the networks have more access than they actually do). If we give sideline reporting gigs to ugly chicks (or worse, to dudes), then the job truly is worthless.

  6. as Melissa points out, isn’t buddying up to the players what every reporter, male or female, has to do to get into that locker room? how else are they supposed to get interviews? I doubt she was sashaying around going “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours”.

    sounds to me like he’s just jealous because he’s been using that line for years and it hasn’t gotten him anywhere.

  7. Paul Moro says:

    Whenever someone thinks that another person has an “unfair” advantage over him/herself, they get pissed. Nadel thinks that he’s being cheated because he doesn’t have the appeal that Andrews has in terms of getting players’ attention. But his anger/annoyance is totally displaced.

    I don’t think that too many people would disagree with the idea that Andrews got the gig for superficial reasons. This isn’t her fault though. And she shouldn’t have to try and fit in with the old boys. People don’t know what to make of her because there aren’t many like her. But there will be. And soon enough, we won’t have to hear crap like this.

  8. Mordecai Brown says:

    When I watch a baseball game, it’s because I want to watch baseball. A woman reporter’s skill and knowledge of baseball are relevant to that; her appearance is not, beyond the normal parameters that apply to both male and female reporters (clean, hair combed, reasonably appropriate clothing).

    Another consideration that’s legitimate is that women have been baseball players and fans for many years now. Erin Andrews has every bit as much right to like baseball as I do. And she has as much right to seek a career in a sports-related industry as any male. And women who are baseball fans have a right to see and hear other women broadcast baseball. They do make up fifty percent of the population and ought to have some say about entertainment afforded by the media.

    For those dinosaurs who find women objectionable on the baseball field or the airways, go read a Victorian novel about the “weaker sex” and leave us fans alone.

    One final point: Have you every watched women’s college-level softball? It’s very entertaining as sport, because the skill level, dedication, and competitiveness are very high indeed. When I see a third baseman make a spectacular play and throw out a runner at first, his or her sex have little to do with the quality of the play.

  9. Sarah, I will take issue with your assumption that Andrews is just as knowledgeable about sports as her male counterparts. Andrews herself admitted that she didn’t know squat about baseball before joining TBS. She says she got that job because she wowed them in her interview with her “seriousness.” Seriously.

    I’m don’t know for sure if Andrews is sports savvy. But she’s never given me any reason to suspect that she has either the sports knowledge or reporting chops of a John Clayton or Mark Stein. You don’t see Andrews breaking stories or going on Sports Center to offer analysis, and I think there’s a reason.

    Is she a super woman? Maybe. I’m not so sure. But for sure she’s super hot.

  10. I haven’t warmed to Heidi Watney not because she’s a “floozy”, but because she doesn’t appear to have any particular knowledge about the sport she covers (and I love), nor does she appear to be particularly skilled at talking to the camera. Therefore, in my opinion, she basically sucks at her job. And just like I dislike CHB or Joe Morgan or Tim McCarver for sucking at their jobs, I don’t particularly like Heidi, either.

    On the other hand, I adore Erin Andrews. I am also blonde, and work in a very male-dominated profession. So to broadly generalize everyone who doesn’t worship Heidi Watney as some sort of jealous brunette prude is rather shortsighted.

  11. Coley: I tend to think Erin is around the middle of the pack as far as sports knowledge goes. She’s no Phil Steele with the encyclopedic sports mind, but she’s no Joe Morgan, either. And just because she isn’t as knowledgeable as the most knowledgeable of her male counterparts, doesn’t mean she’s not as knowledgeable as a large percentage of them.

    But I respect that she (a) loves sports, (b) seems to constantly be trying to learn more, and (c) is very good on-camera.

    Yes, I’m an Erin Andrews apologist… why do you ask?

  12. I think Erin Andrews is hot. Actually I think it goes deeper than that; I think she is actually very beautiful.

    I also respect the job she does. As people have said, she may not have the most encyclopaedic knowledge, but I’m always left with the impression that she knows what she’s talking about and is good at her job. The fact that she’s so hot is an added bonus for me – and what a bonus it is.

    I also happen to think that Heidi Watney is hot – I’ve only seen her a couple of times (given that here in Ireland we’re not able to choose the provider of games). I have nothing more groundbreaking to say about Ms Watney but thought I should also give her her “beauty props”

  13. Texy, I never said that people who dislike Heidi Watney were jealous brunettes, you included – (and I think you are referring to my response to your Heidi Watney post from the Centerfield blog right now, if I remember correctly) – but in my experience, women are just as likely to cut down other women for getting attention as men are. My observation is that the criticism seems more often leveled at blondes in the media and that they are less likely to be taken seriously.

    on another note – the whole thing reminds me of the scene in Anchorman when they are all yelling at Fred Willard – “I don’t know what we’re yelling abouuuut!” – I’m actually surprised Nadel didn’t try and claim that Erin’s menstrual cycle may attract bears to the locker room and endanger the lives of the players. “they can smell the menstruation!” He just made himself look like a huge pathetic asshole.

  14. Nope – I was referring to your arguments here in the comments above about it being a jealous thing or a blonde thing. Neither of those rationales apply to me, and I bristled at the notion that if I’m a woman and I disliked Heidi, it was because I’m jealous of her and/or jealous of her blondeness. And it’s not an “attention” thing, either – because Erin Andrews is both hot and blonde and attention-getting, and I like her.

    I don’t think people’s treatment of Erin and Heidi are necessarily analogous – you can’t really draw conclusions from one based on the other. Like I said, Erin rocks at her job (in my opinion), therefore I like her. Heidi does not, therefore I don’t. My treatment of the two of them has nothing to do with either of them being women – in fact, I’m treating them exactly the same way I treat male sportscasters: if they suck, I don’t like them.

    And is my mind playing tricks on me, or didn’t Erin used to be a brunette? Tina Cervasio and Hazel Mae have, at times, gotten just as much crap as Heidi’s received- and they’re both brunette. Kathryn Tappen gets nothing but rave reviews, and she’s blonde. I think trying to classify it as a blonde thing is overly simplistic, and masks the deeper issue of women getting respect and equal treatment in the world of sports.

    Also: everyone knows that girls on their periods are the cause of all the world’s problems.

  15. Sarah Green says:

    Whoah, we have got some serious blonde pride going on this thread. Huzzah! BLONDES OF THE WORLD, UNITE! Just had to get that out of my system.

    I don’t know much about Erin Andrews’ resume. But I would be willing to guess her experience is not that different from mine, in that I fell in love with one sport (baseball) and then had to learn more about other sports once I started writing for the Metro. I think the difference between Erin Andrews, me, and a man in the same situation is that the man would never want to admit that he had been relatively ignorant about anything because he’d think it was a sign of weakness. Similarly, Mike Nadel and some of his beat writer buddies seem to view friendliness as a sign of unprofessionalism. (Though I wonder if Andrews had been smiling at him, whether he would have still felt that way.) Do they accuse Peter Gammons of the same because he gets friendly with the players he covers? If so, I must have missed that column. (And also the ensuing firestorm about how Gammons only got hired because of his dashing shock of glossy white hair and the way his pecs look in those polos.) Of course, *now* they’re saying it’s a gender-neutral criticism. But they can’t legitimately say that when half the column is filled with gender-specific criticisms.

    (It was really hard for me not to pick apart his lame-ass column line by line. “She’s clearly not afraid to flaunt it”—oh, should she be afraid? Does Nadel want to live in an America in which women ARE afraid to flaunt it? Maybe he should just move to Iran, then. “She could get interviews wearing a burlap sack”—oh, and now a burlap sack is his idea of appropriate professional attire? I see how it is. Jerk.)

    Re: Watney. I actually enjoy Heidi Watney’s work. She doesn’t seem totally comfortable on-camera yet, but I think her questions are solid. (For those of you who aren’t Red Sox fans, Watney is the new Sox sideline reporter.) And I have to shamefacedly admit, when I heard that Tina Cervasio was going to be replaced by a former beauty queen, I did greet the news with skepticism. I am susceptible to the stereotypes too…I just try to notice when I’m being an ass so it doesn’t slip out in public. (Maybe Mike Nadel should try that approach next time.)

    I’m not sure why women are so hard on each other, but I think it has a lot to do with insecurity—not jealousy. The difference there is that I think the reporters who are NOT stunningly beautiful think (and rightly so) that they are at a disadvantage in terms of getting the best on-camera jobs. But instead of blaming sexism, they blame the babe who did get the job, and tell themselves she must have done something unethical to get it. Plus, since women are still a clear second class when it comes to pro sports, there’s a lot of competition to prove yourself—to be “one of the guys,” to fret about how “professional” you seem, to assert your qualifications. And such insecurity is understandable, with the drubbing women in any way involved with pro sports end up taking. But the upshot is that we end up dividing ourselves from each other in our attempts to prove that we fit in, that we’re not one of the so-called floozies, which only ends up reinforcing the system that pisses all off so much (it’s the Madonna/Whore thing all over again). The comments made by Trenni Kuznierek struck me in this regard. “When the talk of the day is not the game, but how high a hemline is, that is a problem,” she said. I agree—but I think the problem is with Nadel, who made it the talk of the day. Kuznierek seems to feel very conflicted about her own job, as she goes on to say, “I realize that part of our job as female reporters is to look good. I’m not an idiot and I know our gender is part of the reason we’re employed.” She went on to say, “As for Mike Nadel’s column, it was refreshing to see someone hold her accountable….I know she’s hotter than me. But, she’d still be better looking in a professional outfit, not just in glorified lingerie.” At this point, I was just flabbergasted. Accountable? For what?! Glorified lingerie?!?! A cap-sleeve dress and thick belt haven’t been considered lingerie since the 19th century. But the kicker is yet to come:

    “As a female in the same business, I wish she’d realize how damaging it is to an entire gender when she carries herself in that manner. It sets us all back to a time where female sports reporters were all seen as husband hunters who were only in the business to catch a cheap glance. “I think this market with me, Jen, Jessie Garcia (of Channel 4) and Stephanie Sutton (Channel 12) proves that theory wrong, but stories like these mean we all have to work harder to regain that trust.”

    Regain whose trust? The trust of sexist people who don’t think women belong in the clubhouse anyway? I am really disturbed by the apparent need to divide the “real” female reporters from the “floozy” ones, and the apparently paradoxical need to ascribe catastrophic, gender-encompassing consequences to the (mundane) actions of one individual.

  16. Hmm … even this happens.

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