No mincing words here. Chris McKendry, an ESPN anchor since 1996, uses a most direct approach to explain her Title IX feelings:
Without Title IX, I would not be a sportscaster.
I am first generation Title IX, meaning sports teams and opportunities were available to me throughout my life. I played in recreation leagues from the time I was in first grade. I played varsity soccer, basketball and tennis through high school and tennis in college. Growing up, I loved sports and always wanted to work “in sports” somehow. That desire led me to television broadcasting.
I didn’t grow up wanting to be “on television” or in entertainment. Had my exposure to sports been limited in my youth, I’m sure I would have found another passion.
I approach my job with the experience and confidence of someone who played sports as opposed to one who watched and read a lot about sports. It makes a difference in how I engage an interview subject and build chemistry with ESPN analysts and co-anchors.
I often say that without sports, I would not be the same Chris McKendry. I would be the “sister of those three athletic McKendry brothers.”
Before going on the air tonight as part of ABC’s coverage of the NBA Finals, Doris Burke sent us her thoughts about the Title IX anniversary and what it has meant to her broadcasting career:
When I thought about your questions, it dawned on me that the passage of that legislation occurred the same year I started to play basketball.
I was 7 years old, and our family had just moved from New York to New Jersey. The new house was right next door to a park and it seems to me I spent much of my childhood from that point forward in that park dribbling a ball. Obviously, it is difficult for me to quantify exactly what impact that legislation has had on my career.
I do know that the park was where I started to dream dreams of going to college on a basketball scholarship. I do know it feels like the passage was a significant moment in what has been an on-going journey for women in the sports landscape in its entirety.
As indebted as I feel to all of the women who have proceeded me in this business, i am equally grateful for the cultural changes aided by Title IX’s passage.
Joe Paterno’s first interview after the Penn State-Jerry Sandusky scandal was with the Washington Post’s Sally Jekins in mid-January.
It turned out to be his last interviews. The iconic Nittany Lions coach died a broken man just a week later. Jenkins had another exclusive.
Post readers were able to soon ask her in a Q-and-A: Did she believe Paterno’s version of events. Her answer (linked here) was: “I don’t know. That’s my best answer. I wrote a story about a man battling on three fronts, fighting for his life, and his life’s work, and his reputation, who had decided to break his silence. Some of his answers I found completely genuine, some I’m not as sure of. I’d prefer the reader simply make up their own mind. I’m actually happy that the piece has drawn such divided, varying responses — the fact that some people totally believe Paterno, and some people don’t buy him at all.”
Jenkins, named the nation’s top sports columnist in 2003 and 2010 by the Associated Press Sports Editors, has written nine books — including three New York Times bestsellers, most notably “It’s Not About the Bike” with Lance Armstrong.
The daughter of acclaimed sports writer Dan Jenkins gave us her thoughts about the anniversary of Title IX and how it has impacted her career:
One of the original anchors hired for the launch of ESPN2 in 1993, Suzy Kolber did an end-around to get to where she’s finally most comfortable — on the NFL sidelines.
Back at ESPN since the late ’90s after a run with Fox, the 48-year-old Kolber was the first female recipient of the Maxwell Club Sports Broadcaster of the Year Award in 2006 and was on the Sports Business Daily’s 2004 list of the 10 favorite sports TV personalities of the past 10 years.
Part of the ESPN “Monday Night Football” package, she talks about how with or without TItle IX, she always had her head in the huddle looking for a chance:
Last April, Michele Tafoya received the first-ever Emmy given out in the category of Sports Personality-Sports Reporter, in a category that included NBC’s Pierre McGuire, Fox’s Ken Rosenthal, TNT’s Craig Sager and CBS’ Tracy Wolfson.
It came after Tafoya’s first year working the sidelines for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” package, after she’d been on the ESPN “Monday Night Football” series the previous five years.
Tafoya, who until recently also did a sports-talk show in her new hometown of Minneapolis on WCCO, is a Southern California product, having graduated from Aviation High in Manhattan Beach, getting a BA in mass communications from Cal and an MBA from USC. One of her first pro assignments was calling men’s basketball for UNC-Charlotte on WAQS-AM in Charlotte — going by the name Mickey Conley.
In five years at CBS, she had some history-making ability — the first women to do TV play-by-play of an NCAA tournament game, in 1996. A year later, The American Women in Radio and Television honored her with a Gracie Award for “Outstanding Achievement by an Individual On-Air TV Personality” for her WNBA work with Lifetime.
She talks about the impact of Title IX on her life growing up, and in broadcasting as he continues today as a mom, wife, and reporter:
www.clevelandwomen.com Christine Brennan, right, with Billie Jean King during an event in Cleveland celebrating the 35th anniverary of Title IX in 2007.
USA Today award-winning columnist Christine Brennan shot us an email this morning — she just got back to her D.C. offices after having covered the U.S. Open in San Francisco and then delivering a speech in Seattle. She has two Title IX events this afternoon and evening that she’s either speaking at or moderating.
While she can explain most of how her career as a media member unfolded in her recent autobiography “The Best Seat in the House: A Father, A Daughter, A Journey Through Sports” (2006, Scribner, 283 pages), where she’s also done work for ABC, ESPN, NPR and wrote the national bestseller “Inside Edge: A Revealing Journey into the Secret World of Figure Skating,” aside from having her own website (www.christinebrennan.com), maybe all she needed to say about Title IX is today’s column (linked here).
It concludes with this paragraph:
One can argue that Title IX is the most important law in our nation over the past 40 years. Others will disagree, but no one can deny just how significant it has been. Think of that girl-athlete you see in the kitchen every morning. Whatever she is going to become — a mother, a lawyer, a doctor, a businesswoman, a coach, a teacher or some combination thereof — she will be better at it because she played sports.
Jeannie Edwards, delivering information on a college football sideline, was about the farthest place she thought she’d be growing up.
She had a horse racing career to pursue.
The fact she’s been part of the ESPN/ABC coverage for major throughbred events is a given these days. But she’s expanded her broadcasting duties because of her ability to work hard at the craft — and sidestepping the fact she has been on the wrong end of a couple of strange incidents that you’d think wouldn’t even happen these days.
One had to do with fellow ESPN broadcaster Ron Franklin in early 2011 during a production meeting. He was let go by the network for taking offense to Edwards not quite accepting of him calling her “sweetcakes,” followed by another derogatory term when she objected.
Two years earlier, Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillespie seemed to mock one of her halftime questions by calling it “bad” as he explained why his team was having troubles. Was that really an issue? Some made it to be because of his condesending attitude.
Edwards explains her connection to Title IX and her broadcasting career:
It might have been the lack of a women’s professional basketball league — and a failed tryout with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers — that led Ann Meyers Drysdale into a broadcasting career in the early 1980s.
Again, she was just ahead of her time.
In her new autobiography, “You Let Some Girl Beat You?” (Behler Publications, $15.95, 231 pages, linked here), timed to be released as the 40th anniversary of Title IX is being celebrated, the former UCLA All-American explains that she “was born in San Diego in 1955 with two X chromosomes. Things might have been a lot easier had that not been the case.”
Title IX wasn’t even a consideration for decades to come.
Meyers Drysdale writes in detail about how TV broadcast work in the wake of Title IX was one of her only real post-playing career options if she wanted to stay near sports, but even then, it was hardly a given. She made it happen.
Eventually, she was accepted as an analyst on men’s games — the first to really get that break and open that door for others. In 30-plus years of broadcasting, the current vice president of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury was employed at one time or another by Prime Ticket, CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN, Sports Channel, TNT and Fox Sports Net, the later of whom used her on many WNBA Sparks telecasts in Los Angeles.