On Tuesday night, Jessica Mendoza made history as the first woman to broadcast a nationally-televised MLB postseason game. As I said earlier this week, she brought me and tens of thousands of other women who identify as sports fans that much closer to the games we love. This was a big change, and as Mendoza mentions in this ESPNW video, “anytime there’s a change or something different there’s usually a lot of resistance.”
In the sports world in particular, it doesn’t take much to be the brunt of ridiculously misogynistic and sexist comments. If you are a woman, you’re pretty much guaranteed to face them at one point or another. So unfortunately, it didn’t come as a surprise when Mendoza was attacked on Twitter after the game, essentially for the inevitable: being a woman in sports.
“Let’s think about what I’m saying, what I’m doing,” Mendoza said, rather than being an outrageous asshole who chooses to highlight the fact that her voice sounds a little bit different than what some fans might be used to. She hasn’t even looked at the nasty tweets, and in an effort to not give them more exposure than they already have, I won’t be including them here either. But this kind of backlash towards women who break barriers and successfully attempt to enter into what’s traditionally been the ultimate boys club par excellence is standard and all too commonplace. South Florida’s Andrea Ocampo, for example, was not surprised in the slightest to hear of the social media attacks.
Ocampo works as a bilingual media personality, sports reporter, Latin market manager, and Hispanic ambassador for the NHL’s Florida Panthers. After receiving a broadcasting degree from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, she went on to produce, host, and interview for the Panthers, as well as for various other college football news outlets and CNN Latino Showbiz Live. Her passion? Helping women break into the sports world by encouraging business-centered mindsets and hard work above all else.
Although she’s never been in the spotlight quite like Mendoza, Ocampo has had her share of naysayers. “I was able to shut down my critics by showing them that I’m the real deal,” she said.
It seems like Mendoza shares a similar mindset. She told Good Morning America, “Yes, I am female, but I want it to get to the point where – let’s think about what I am saying, what I am doing, and not so much the sex that I am. I want to get to a point when we hear a female voice on [the] NBA, NFL, or just anything in men’s sports, and it is like, ‘Sweet. She’s doing a good job.’”
When it comes down to it, Mendoza is doing a good job, and she is good at it. One can only hope that her role – and the roles of other women in the world of sports more generally – will continue to grow. I for one find myself much more inclined to listen to a broadcast with Mendoza’s voice than one featuring Curt Schilling.