Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sistah Sportscasters-A Proud Legacy

When you flip on the television to watch your favorite sporting event, it's not unusual to see and hear Black women such as Doris Burke doing the play by play, the analysis of Kara Lawson, Carolyn Peck and Cheryl Miller before, during and after the game breaking down what's transpiring on the field or the court or studio anchors such as Cindy Brunson reading the sports scores and breaking sports news of the day.

Sistah sportscasters have come a long way since Jayne Kennedy made history and news when she was tapped in 1978 to replace Phyllis George on 'The NFL Today', the CBS lead in show for its NFL broadcasts. Kennedy left the show in 1983, about the time a fledgling sports network was starting to expand to a national presence by becoming part of the basic cable packages of a nation wiring for cable.

ESPN is considered a leader in sports television 30 years later, and has also led the way has in opening doors and diversifying the what was once male dominated domain of sports broadcasting.

ESPN has excelled in hiring quality women sportscasters. One of the women ESPN hired in 1990, Robin Roberts, is considered the gold standard when it comes to the level of excellence that the current group of sportscasting sistahs aspire to reach and surpass.

Robin earned three Emmy Awards during her ESPN tenure and after working both for ESPN and doing GMA assignments, moved on to eventually became part of the Good Morning America team. She was recently promoted to anchor for GMA with the elevation of Diane sawyer to the ABC Evening News anchor desk.

My Texas homegirl Pam Oliver was a weekend sports anchor for KHOU-TV before she made the move to ESPN and eventually FOX Sports to become their sideline reporter for their NFL and college football telecasts. EBONY magazine named her as one of their 2004 Outstanding Women in Journalism honorees.

The Dallas native has the distinction of having her own dressing room with her name on the door at the new Cowboys Stadium.

Cindy Brunson has been an ESPN studio anchor since September 1999 and before joining the network covered the Portland Trail Blazers and the University of Oregon and Oregon State men's and women's basketball and the Oregon Ducks football program for a Portland television station.

I also have to give a shoutout to the new school sistah sportscasters who are currently getting attention and air time.

ESPN's Sage Steele has been with the network since March 2007 after stops in Indianapolis, the Tampa-St Petersburg area and Washington DC.

You can catch her when you tune in to ESPN in the mornings, but she used to cover the Baltimore Ravens during her time in DC.

Lisa Salters has been part of ABC Sports and ESPN since March 2000 as one of their sideline reporters for its NBA and football coverage, but her background is in broadcast news.

The cousin of Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett covered as a ABC Los Angeles bureau based reporter from 1995-2000 the Oklahoma City bombing trials, the Matthew Shepard murder, the crash of TWA Flight 800, and both the civil and criminal O.J. Simpson trials.

Reischea Canidate has made the move from New York City television stations to Bristol, CT. She also received an Emmy nomination for her report on the dwindling numbers of African-Americans in professional baseball.

The other interesting aspect of Salters and Canidate is that like Pam Oliver, Kara Lawson and Cheryl Miller they were also college athletes, in addition to having their broadcast journalism chops.

I enjoy watching all these ladies not only for the quality work they do, but their sense of style as well.

The legacy of sistah sportscasters is not only in good hands, these women are serving as role models for the next generation of girls who wish to follow in their footsteps and expand on their legacies.

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