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.
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.
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.