Big Lead Sports Bar


Backyard Scrawler: Get Out of the Kitchen and Let’s Talk Sports

Nearly a week has gone by but no one has posted this on YouTube: some jagoff with an “Iron My Shirt” sign paraded behind the sidewalk window set of Savran on SportsBeat when the show held its annual “Ladies Night” last Friday.

OK, I lied. That only happens at presidential campaign rallies and golf protests.

However, Stan was obviously inebriated as he kept slurring the phrase “I wanna kiss you” to Karen Price of the Tribune-Review. Oh, and, right about that time Shelly Anderson of the Post-Gazette chugged a bottle of Belvedere after and screamed “F… Jesus!”

Alright, I made all that stuff up, too.

But didn’t it seem kinda silly that FSN plopped down two soft-spoken female scribes –– neither of which with a beat to cover or consistent column space –– on its set and had Stan proclaim them as “paragons of journalistic excellence”?

Nothing against Anderson or Price; Anderson is a great read in the P-G and her input on the show seemed well-informed, and Price, well, I’m sure she was good at covering the Penguins five years ago. (Price struggled to have a deliberate opinion like when Stan put her on the spot by asking her what position/player the Steelers should draft: “Umm … position … just … uh … I think the best player available.”)

I digress. Not having an on-air presence doesn’t equate to lackluster writing. It was relieving, nonetheless, not having Ron Cook grouse and dismiss every topic while reminding us of his long-in-the-tooth memory and scant salary.

But here’s my point: This has nothing to do with the aptitude or charisma of Anderson or Price, but instead their appearance on Savran SportsBeat has everything to do with the lack of female –– or at least freshened –– voices in Pittsburgh’s sports media. Is this all we’ve got for an alternative?

As prescribed by Anderson with her “a goal is a goal, a ringer is a ringer” comment, straight news reporting is gender neutral. There is no female perspective. But when it comes to on-air personalities and the voices in column-writing, having diverse, well-informed perspectives do matter. It improves the overall sports discourse in this town. Heck, even the Dominion Post in culturally-inept Morgantown recently hired a young, female Asian writer as its WVU football columnist.

The collective press box in Pittsburgh for the most part is tired and cranky. The writers/call-in talk show guests are hackneyed, irritated and seem aching for a post-deadline drink. Even their younger versions seem like grumpy-old-men-in-training. Of course you are also going to have your obligatory well-groomed talking heads (yawn) and unpolished ex-athletes (yeah, we know, you played). Maybe that’s why sports fans in this town cling to Stan Savran for perspective.

The female Pittsburgh sports fan is prevalent: evidence indicates that the Steelers have the largest female fan base in the NFL and, trust me, the crowds at Pirates and Pens games are no sausage parties either. So why no females reporting?

Maybe this whole diatribe is a plea for Trenni Kusnierek to leave her Laverne & Shirley-watching, beer-brewing and sausage-racing homeland and come back to Pittsburgh. But, ladies, this can only confirm one if not all of the following three theories about female sports fans and the resulting lack of female sports journalists in this town:

1. Pittsburgh women aren’t really sports fans, they only go to the games because it’s the only socially significant thing this town has to offer. Let’s face it, it’s not Hollywood.

2. Women’s periods really do attract bears to the newsroom.

3. Sally Wiggin’s prodding banter will do just fine, thank you very much.


Jonny Van Mundegaarde said...

Pittsburgh's female sports fans only go to the games "because it’s the only socially significant thing this town has to offer?" There are some ladies at thePensblog that would surely have a difference of opinion with you there.

Reggie Dunlop said...

dumb post.

Koz said...

Interesting topic to address. Nice to read something different.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Interesting topic I agree.

I don't agree with everything you said (see jonny v's comment) but I guess it was something worth talking about.

Backyard Scrawler said...

Just to clarify, the last three points were intended to be blasphemy (just like bears in the newroom and Sally sufficing) ... I think female sports fans in Pgh. are great but they don't have a voice to identify with. I just thought I'd throw the topic out there.

Anonymous said...

You can make that claim in lots of cities, but Pittsburgh is not one of them.

Poor effort.

Bring back Mondesi.