The sports media voices of Title IX: Our 40-for-40 list


ESPNW will announce Friday the No. 1 and 2 of a list it began in April to honor the 40th anniversary of Title IX, celebrating the top 40 women athletes of the last 40 years. It’ll come out on the 8 p.m. “SportsCenter.”

Martina Navratilova or Mia Hamm? Not Billie Jean King. She’s No. 11.

Likewise, we have our Top 40 list of the women in the sports media who not only benefitted from the implementation of Title IX, but also raised the bar and helped shape the business for the better over the last 40 years (in alphabetical order):


== Bonnie Bernstein: Former CBS and ESPN reporter, sports-talk show host.

== Christine Brennan: USA Today sports columnist, author, TV commentator.

== Doris Burke: ESPN and ABC play-by-play, analyst and sideline reporter.

== Mary Carillo: HBO “Real Sports” reporter, network tennis analyst and Olympic Games host.

== Jane Chastain: The first female TV news sportscaster at Miami in 1967, her claim to fame came two years after Title IX: CBS made her the first female NFL game broadcaster in 1974.


== Linda Cohn: ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor and host.

== Donna de Varona: One of the first female sportscasters in TV history hired by ABC in 1965 at age 18, she championed the Title IX legislation, and returned to broadcasting at ABC and NBC and covered 17 Olympics.

== Nanci Donnellan: “The Fabulous Sports Babe” was the first syndicated female sports-talk radio host from 1994 to 2001 for ESPN Radio.

== Ann Meyers Drysdale: First woman used as an analyst on men’s basketball TV broadcasts after her trying out with the Indiana Pacers in 1979.

== Jeannie Edwards: ESPN reporter on horse racing, college football and basketball.

== Helene Elliott: The Los Angeles Times columnist is the first female inducted into the writer’s wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

== Gayle Gardner: Former ESPN anchor was the first female sports anchor on a major network when hired by NBC in 1993. That year she also was the first woman to do TV play-by-play of an MLB game.


== Phyllis George: CBS made her the first women to join an NFL pregame show in 1975.

== Johnette Howard: Sports columnist at New York Newsday, formerly with Sports Illustrated, nominated for a 2000 Pulitzer Prize.

== Sally Jenkins: Washington Post columnist and best-selling author.

== Jayne Kennedy: Part of CBS’ “The NFL Today” starting in 1978.

== Suzy Kolber: ESPN “Monday Night Football” reporter and NFL studio host.

== Andrea Kremer: HBO “Real Sports” reporter, former NFL sideline reporter.

== Ann Liguori: One of first sports-talk show hosts on WFAN in New York, TV producer and feature host.

== Jamie Little: ABC and ESPN pit reporter on NASCAR and IRL. The first female pit reporter on the Indy 500 broadcast in 2004.

== Melissa Ludtke: Sports Illustrated reporter who won a discrimination lawsuit against the MLB in 1978 to gain equal locker room access.


== Jackie MacMullan: Former Boston Globe and Sports Illustrated columnist and reporter now at First woman to receive the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame media award.

== Chris McKendry: ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor and host.

== Jeannie Morris: Former Chicago sports writer, anchor and author, wrote the Brian Piccolo biography turned into a TV movie.

== Beth Mowins: ESPN and CBS play-by-play broadcaster, on college football.

== Lisa Olson: Former Boston Herald reporter who sued the NFL for sexual harassment in 1990 and opened the door for equal reporter access.

== Leandra Reilly: First to do play-by-play of an NBA game in 1988 for SportsChannel, worked more than 20 years at ESPN.

== Robin Roberts: Former ESPN anchor, reporter, play-by-play broadcaster now with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

== Selena Roberts: Senior writer at Sports Illustrated, formerly with the New York Times.

== Lisa Salters: ESPN reporter on “E:60”

== Le Anne Schreiber: Former New York Times sports editor and ombudsman.


== Gayle Sierens: NBC made her the first woman to do play-by-play on an NFL regular season game in 1987.

== Molly Solomon: Executive producer for Golf Channel and coordinating producer for NBC’s Olympics coverage.

== Hannah Storm: ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor and host.

== Susan Stratton: Former Lakers game producer for KCAL-Channel 9 and Fox Sports West.

== Michele Tafoya: NBC “Sunday Night Football” sideline reporter; former WNBA play-by-play and ESPN broadcaster.

== Lesley Visser: Former Boston Globe writer voted No. 1 Female Sportscaster of all-time by the American Sportscasters Association. First woman in the Pro Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2006.

== Syzyn Waldman: Radio broadcaster on New York Yankees’ games.

== Pam Ward: ESPN college football play-by-play from 2000-11.


== Jeanne Zelasko: First women to host a network baseball pregame show at Fox in 2001. First women reporter at the Daytona 500.

As for the ESPNW list, here’s how the list has come out to date:

No. 40: Fu Mingxia (diving); No. 39: Julie Krone (horse racing jockey); No. 38: Mary Lou Retton (gymnastics); No. 37: Cammi Granato (ice hockey); No. 36: Kristine Lilly (soccer);

No. 35: Diana Taurasi (basketball); No. 34: Flo Hyman (volleyball); No. 33: Abby Wambach (soccer); No. 32: Mary T. Meagher (swimming); No. 31: Joan Benoit (track);

No. 30: Gail Devers (track); No. 29: Nancy Lieberman (basketball); No. 28: Grete Waitz (running); No. 27: Michelle Akers (soccer); No. 26: Chamique Holdsclaw (basketball);

No. 25: Dara Tores (swimming); No. 24: Nancy Lopez (golf); No. 23: Tracy Caulkins (swimming); No. 22: Marta (soccer); No. 21: Venus Williams (tennis);

No. 20: Michelle Kwan (figure skating); No. 19: Lindsay Vonn (skiing); No. 18: Lisa Fernandez (softball); No. 17: Ann Meyers Drysdale (basketball); No. 16: Sheryl Swoopes (basketball);

No. 15: Janet Evans (swimming); No. 14: Katarina Witt (figure skating); No. 13: Cheryl Miller (basketball); No. 12: Florence Griffin-Joyner (track); No. 11 Billie Jean King (tennis);

No. 10 Serena Williams (tennis); No. 9: Steffi Graf (tennis); No. 8: Nadia Comaneci (gymnastics); No. 7: Chris Evert (tennis); No. 6: Bonnie Blair (speed skating);

No. 5: Lisa Leslie (basketball); No. 4 Annika Sorenstam (golf); No. 3: Jackie Joyner-Kersee (track).

(The list so far, with bios, linked here).

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  • Amy Goodwin

    Thanks so much for writing this piece. Women in sports media seem to be very unappreciated and, in fact, often must endure some real persecution. (Have you seen what Doris Burke must endure on Twitter during the NBA Finals?) I’ve been doing a show on Blog Talk Radio called “Women in Sports Media” to raise awareness and appreciation for women in sports media and have gotten some wonderful interviews with some of the very women you have featured in your top 40 list. Have a listen! I think you will enjoy them. Thank you so much for doing your part to recognize them as well. I admire all these women immensely. Guess I’m not too old to need role models! Best regards,
    Amy Goodwin