The same people keep picking the same people because they only surround themselves with the same people.
No, this isn’t a column about the lack of diversity when it comes to the NFL and how owners love to hire mediocre white coaches who they’re “comfortable with” instead of tapping into a pipeline of overqualified Black candidates. This is about how the lack of diversity in sports media follows the same recipe.
Earlier this week, The Big Lead revealed its 2022 Sports Media Awards. The majority of the winners are white… as hell.
Of the 15 individual awards that were given out, 12 went to white men. The winners included: Sports Personalities of the Year (Troy Aikman and Joe Buck), Best In-Game Analyst (Cris Collinsworth), Best Play-by-Play Announcer (Mike Breen), Insider of the Year (Jeff Passan), Newcomer of the Year (JJ Redick), Best Radio Show (The Herd with Colin Cowherd), Best Podcast (The Ryen Russillo Podcast), Biggest Sports Media Acquisition (Tom Brady), Independent Media Award (Ethan Strauss), Best Meme (Brian Windhorst), and Lifetime Achievement Award (Dick Vitale).
In only three categories was there a smidgen of diversity, as The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach came away with Sportswriter of the Year, ESPN’s Molly Qerim won Best Studio Host, and ESPN’s Monica McNutt won an award — not for her talent and ability to cover a multitude of sports, along with studio work and sideline coverage — for Best Reaction for her non-verbal communication about a dumb take that was being discussed on ESPN’s “Get Up.”
Some of you are wondering what’s the big deal, as these awards are nothing more than lighthearted internet superlatives. Well, the answer is that these are the kinds of things that agents use to get their clients better deals when they’re in negotiations with these networks and publications. This is sports, remember? Stats and accolades matter.
The construction of the list of winners — and their fellow nominees — is easier to understand once you realize that a bunch of white dudes were picked because the sports industry is full of, and ran by, a bunch of white dudes.
According to the 2021 Sports Media Racial and Gender Report Card that The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) puts together for the Associated Press Sports Editors, a large part of the industry gets an F for gender hiring, a B+ for racial hiring, and a C as an overall grade. Every few years TIDES collects research to hold sports media accountable. But, unfortunately, over the years some hiring managers and leaders have delayed or not participated in the gathering of information due to how bad the grades have historically been. They ask to be held accountable, and then run and hide when it’s time.
Check out these report card highlights from the latest study:
- 79.2 percent of the sports editors were white.
- 72.0 percent of the assistant sports editors were white.
- 77.1 percent of the columnists were white.
- 77.1 percent of the reporters were white.
- 77.0 percent of the copy editors/designers were white.
- 80.1 percent of upper management were white.
- 83.3 percent of the sports editors were men.
- 75.8 percent of the assistant sports editors were men.
- 82.2 percent of the columnists were men.
- 85.6 percent of the reporters were men.
- 75.3 percent of the copy editors/designers were men.
- 63.7 percent of upper management were men.
The numbers don’t lie, and this is why who was picked in an internet “best of” list was selected. If the overwhelming majority of the people in this industry are of one group, it means that the winners of awards are destined to be, too. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. People of color and women could be hired and selected for these awards at higher rates if white men did the work and got out of their bubbles.
Cross your fingers for better days, but don’t hold your breath. On Friday, The Athletic announced its pick for Sports Media Person of the Year. The site chose another white dude in Pat McAfee — the same guy who allowed Aaron Rodgers to continually spew fake news and anti-vax rhetoric on his radio show. Way to go (white) guys.