The sports media voices of Title IX: Pam Ward


Pam Ward, center, with Nancy Lieberman doing a women’s college basketball game at the University of Georgia. Right is statistician Karen Blackman. Credit:

When ESPN hired Pam Ward in the mid 1990s, it was as an ESPNEWS anchor. But in 2000, she became so annoyed when ABC replaced veteran sideline reporter Lesley Visser with relatively inexperienced Melissa Stark, she decided to do something about it.

“I was pretty fired up about that,” Ward told Len Shapiro of the Washington Post in 2007. She went to see ESPN executive John Walsh to ask if she could do play-by-play on college football . He eventually gave it the green light — making her the first women to do regular play-by-play on college football for the network.

An agent once told her her back in 1990 to forget about trying to do play-by-play, and focus instead on trying to be an off-camera producer. Thankfully, she didn’t listen well. She listened to Pat Summerall and Dick Enberg instead — those were her voices of the NFL that she wanted to follow as a broadcasting student at the University of Maryland.

Ward found out last month that her 12-year run callling college football for the network appears to be over. ESPN decided to move her into doing more NCAA softball, the WNBA and college soccer.

Here’s what Ward said about doing what she’s doing today in light of the passage of Title IX some 40 years ago:

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The sports media voices of Title IX: Ann Liguori

i-f7669ce3d71fde12c93cd90241ace8ef-Ann Liguori head shot Cross Golf apparel.jpg

Ann Ligouri’s email signature includes the following:

== President, Ann Liguori Productions, Sports Innerview Radio & Television properties
== Golf & Tennis Correspondent, WFAN RadioSports
== Talk Show Host, ‘Sports Innerview with Ann Liguori,’ Saturday mornings,
9-10am EST
== Columnist,
== Author, ‘A Passion for Golf, Celebrity Musings About the Game.’
== President, Ann Liguori Foundation

Then she has to add: “Please “like” my FACEBOOK PAGE:”

We’ve liked Ligouri for as long as we can remember, for her hustle, passion and, as we’re trying to point out here, one of the 40 women over the last 40 years who’ve raised the bar in the sports media.

The first woman on WFAN radio to host a sports call-in show (’89 to ’06) is still covering golf and tennis for the station.The upcoming U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows will be her 30th time at the event, going back to ABC Radio Sports. She was also only the fourth female celebrity to play in the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Classic in 2011.

Here’s how she likes her life these days in light how how Title IX opened doors for her:

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The sports media voices of Title IX: Mary Carillo

Shuttlecock down, it’s the best three minute rant you’ll ever hear a broadcaster deliver about badminton, from the 2004 NBC coverage of the Summer Games from Greece, via Mary Carillo’s experiences with the neighborhood kids (above).

In 2010, Sports Illustrated media writer Richard Deistch named Mary Carillo the “best game analyst of the 2000s,” crediting her for “excelling in a sport that far too often soft-pedals commentary because of the many conflicts of interests and relationships.” SI columnist Jon Wertheim also said about her: “Her bold, ‘I don’t care who might be chapped by what I’m about to say approach’ separated her from too many of her colleagues.”

It’s not a surprise that when we caught up with Carillo this week to explain her inclusion on our list of the top 40 women of the sports media over the last 40 years, she was in a rush to get off somewhere.

“Greetings from the JFK Virgin Atlantic lounge,” she wrote in an email. “I’m heading to London for a few NBC Olympics stories before the start of Tennis Channel’s coverage of Wimbledon. Had to be in NYC this morning for an HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel sit-down for tonight’s show … and after the London Games are over I’m off for a few days before starting CBS’ summer coverage of the US Open series, finishing off with the Open itself …

“All of which is to say I am very fortunate indeed to have been a Title IX baby …”

We’ll let Carillo explain more about how Title IX has impacted her life, specifically as a broadcaster:

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The sports media voices of Title IX: Donna de Varona


Donna de Varona, right, with Billie Jean King at a Women’s Sports Foundation event.

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

– Part of the wording of the Title IX legislation that President Nixon signed into law on June 23, 1972.


Since the end of April, ESPN has been counting down the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years, part of a initiative called “The Power of IX – recognizing the 40th anniversary of Title IX,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary of being approved on Saturday.

Friday, the top 10 athletes on this list will be revealed on the 8 p.m. “SportsCenter,” including the naming of the No. 1 person.

Because the Equal Education Amendment Act of 1972 was all about creating a level playing field across the board — not just in athletics — the ESPN list inspired us to create out own Top 40.

We choose to honor the 40 sports media females who raised the bar in the sports media over the last 40 years. Friday, we’ll unveil our list.


And in giving first-person voices to this project, it’s appropriate to start with Donna de Varona.

The San Diego native became a member of the U.S. Olympic swim team at age 13 in 1960. She retired from swimming in 1965, after winning two golds at the ’64 Tokyo Games, and while attending UCLA, at age 17, she was hired as one of the first female sports broadcasters at a major network by ABC on “Wide World of Sports” as a way to pay her college bills. UCLA, like most schools at the time, didn’t have women’s sports programs.

This was seven years before Title IX.

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More of the Sparky Anderson we wanted to know better


We finally came across a copy of Dan Ewald‘s book, “Sparky And Me: My Friendship with Sparky Anderson and the Lessons He Shared about Baseball and Life” ($25.99, Thomas Dunne Books, 334 pages) and couldn’t help but think of the many times we were able to just pick up the phone and call the late Hall of Fame manager from his Thousand Oaks home to discuss one thing, and see the conversation go in several other directions.

Ewald, a former Detroit News baseball writer who then worked for the Tigers for 18 years and became Anderson’s right-hand man for 32 years later, wrote several books with Anderson over the years. A copy of “They Call Me Sparky” (1998, Sleeping Bear Press) sits proudly on my shelf, if only so I can show off the inscription on the inside cover. He started the inscription “To ‘Tom’” — yes, with quotes around my name — and finished the note by signing it Sparky. Without quotes.

Comparisons have been made to “Tuesdays with Morrie,” and that’s about as great a compliment as can be for Ewald’s collection of stories that paint a clearer picture of George Anderson that we could have ever known from just spot interviews.

Just a few quick excerpts that jumped out at us:

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More no-nos from Rojas and the topic of no-nos


We couldn’t resist making note that when the Angels’ Mike Trout opened the bottom of the first tonight against the Giants’ Matt Cain with a single to left, Angels’ FSW play-by-play man Victor Rojas said: “Line to left field … no perfect game tonight as Trout takes a big turn…”

That was quick to note, eh?

Rojas was later talking about the Giants broadcast team of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow — noting how Kuiper was an infielder for the Indians when Len Barker threw his perfect game, and then broadcast Cain’s perfecto last week.

Rojas complimented Kuiper on the fact he called Cain’s game “and adhered to the old adage of not mentioning if it was a no-hitter or perfect game, just used different words, and did an admirable job, got a write up in the paper in San Francisco about it.”

That reference must be to the column that Bruce Jenkins wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday (linked here), where he asked the question: Is saying ‘no-hitter’ a broadcaster’s no-no?

As we’ve chronicled long before this, Rojas sticks by the superstition, and drove viewers batty while Jered Weaver was throwing his no-no last month, and did it again as the Angels’ Ervin Santana was perfect into the eighth inning on Saturday.

(FYI: Rojas even tweeted during at 8:32 p.m. last Saturday: “18 in a row retired by Ervin Santana to start the game, still w/ 3 K’s…remains untarnished. 2-0 #Angels B6″ Does that tell you enough?)

From Jenkins’ column: “I don’t know how that all started,” Kuiper said, “but if there’s any way you can help that guy on the mound, you do it. I have no problem with the way anyone calls a game. Personally, I just would not be comfortable saying ‘no-hitter’ or ‘perfect game.’ ”
So Kuiper cleverly danced around the semantics, a task that becomes relatively easy on television, where graphics and visuals tell much of the story. That’s hardly the case on radio.
“I said ‘perfect game’ over and over again during that broadcast,” (Dave) Flemming said. “I just think to myself, what if someone’s just tuning in, doesn’t know anything except that the Giants have a 10-0 lead, and then they turn it off, only to wake up the next morning completely disappointed? I want to make sure people know exactly what’s going on.”
“I’m not superstitious in that way, and I really don’t understand it,” (Jon) Miller said. “You can say ‘he hasn’t allowed a hit’ but not ‘no-hitter’? Is it a jinx if the Astros’ guy says it? What if our engineer (Lee Jones) says it in the back of the booth? I just don’t get how it actually works. What will the gods allow?”

God only knows.

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Play It Forward: June 18-24 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:



NBA Finals: Oklahoma City vs. Miami:
Game 4: Tuesday at Miami, 6 p.m., Channel 7
Game 5: Thursday at Miami, 6 p.m.
If necessary: Game 6: Sunday at Oklahoma City, 5 p.m.


This short, weird season is coming closer to the end for Derek Fisher, participating in his eighth NBA Final over the last 16 years. What started with him employed by the Lakers and placed front and center during the NBA lockout as the president of the players’ union became more complicated when he was traded, asked for his release, then signed on with the Thunder — and now he’s two losses away from not being able to grab his sixth title.


“What it would mean to win a championship means enough by itself without adding what has happened before now,” Fisher said. “For me personally, there are a number of things I just won’t choose to reflect on or look into until after this is long done and I can step away from things for a minute.” At least this can take his mind off things still unsettled in the NBA Players Association land. The organization asked him to resign as president in April. He refused, and there won’t be any resolution until this summer. “All in all, for me, these are good problems to have,” Fisher said. “When you think about how tough it is for people every day, this is not hard at all to be able to try to figure out a way to be able to focus on playing basketball. I’m healthy. My family’s healthy. So, at the end of the day, if these are the things that I have to deal with to be called tough days, I’ll take it.” Fisher had nine points and two steals, without an assist, in the Thunder’s 91-85 loss to the Heat in Sunday’s Game 3, meaning Miami can win it by taking the next two at home. Fisher made a 25-footer for 3, and followed with a free throw to give OKC a 10-point lead with 4:33 left in the third quarter, but Miami surged ahead to lead going into the final quarter. Fisher’s jumper with 10:59 left in the game brought the Thunder back to within two.

(Above: Lil Wayne watches the first half at Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, seeming to know the Heat have won two and need two more wins to claim a title. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)



(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Home plate umpire Ted Barrett stands at attention as San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain warms up before the ninth inning of Wednesday’s eventual perfect game against Houston last Wednesday.

MLB: Angels vs. San Francisco, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:


How fortunate for the Angels to be on the receiving end of Matt Cain’s follow-up performance to his perfect game against Houston last week. The Giants’ right-hander only struck out 14 in that one. If you notice Ted Barrett behind the plate, the odds are also better that more history could be made. Barrett, who did the balls and strikes for that Cain game last week in San Francisco, also was there in 1999 when the Yankees’ David Cone tossed a perfect game against Montreal — so he’s the only ump to call two perfect games in major-league history. For that matter, Brian Runge, the third-base ump for Cain’s game last week, was behind the plate when six Seattle pitchers combined for a 1-0 no-hit win over the Dodgers last week, and he called Philip Humber’s perfect game for the Chicago White Sox at Seattle on April 21. This series, another flashback to the World Series from 10 years ago, minus almost everyone except Mike Scioscia, continues Tuesday and Wednesday, 7:05 p.m., FSW.

WNBA: Sparks vs. Washington, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.:

A five-game win streak was followed up by back-to-back losses on the road at Atlanta and San Antonio last weekend for the 7-3 Sparks, playing three times in four nights. After this, they’ve got games Saturday at Phoenix (6 p.m., ESPN) and Sunday vs. San Antonio at home (5:30 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56).



“Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” 10 p.m., HBO:

An interview runs through it: Phil Jackson tries to explain to reporter Andrea Kremer why he’d prefer to spend his days secluded in Montana rather than on the merry-go-round known as the NBA coaching circle. Just look at the scenery during the piece. You’d want to be there, too. Jackson says about how his career with the Lakers’ ended following the four-game sweep against Dallas in ’11: “It was humbling. Not the way I wanna see my players behave on the court. Andrew (Bynum) particularly, you know, took his jersey off and walked off the court in a way that was, you know, sense of arrogance. The game itself was bad enough as it went. So it — it was kinda like — so this is how it’s gonna end, huh? This is an interesting closure to chapter of basketball.” The 66-year-old Jackson who just had knee replacement admits the New York Knicks “never called” about his interest in coaching the team, but he wouldn’t have taken the job anyway, “that’s for sure … there’s just too much work that has to be done with that team. You know? It’s a little bit of a clumsy team. They don’t fit together well. Stoudemire doesn’t fit together well with Carmelo. Stoudemire’s really good player. But he’s gotta play in a certain system and a way. Carmelo has to be a better passer. And the ball can’t stop every time it hits his hands. They need to have someone come in that can kinda blend that group together.” Kremer responds: “But woudn’t you have been the perfect person to come in and blend all that talent together?” Jackson: “Yeah, well, it didn’t happen.”


Baseball: College World Series: UCLA vs. Florida State, 5 p.m., ESPN:

Dropping a 4-0 decision to Arizona on Sunday sends the No. 2-ranked Bruins into a win-or-go-home mode. Should they survive this one, they play again on Thursday (2 p.m., ESPN2) against the same Wildcats. Win that, and there’s an elimination game between the two again on Friday (2 p.m., ESPN2) for the right to get to the best-of-three championship starting Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN2). South Carolina, the two-time NCAA champion, is back on track for another after winning its opener against Florida and next playing Arkansas on Monday.

(Above: UCLA left fielder Cody Keefer chases but cannot catch a foul ball hit by Arizona’s Riley Moore in the fourth inning of Sunday’s College World Series game in Omaha, Neb. AP Photo/Eric Francis)

MLB: Dodgers at Oakland, 7:05 p.m., Channel 9:

This could have been the greatest opportunity for the Athletics to finally call up one Manuel Arstides “Manny” Ramrez Onelcida from Triple-A Sacramento, but he beat them to the punch by asking for, and receiving, his release over the weekend. Brandon McCarthy, the 6-foot-7 and 200-pounder who is among the AL leaders in ERA at 2.79, makes the start tonight for Oakland after missing time with a bad shoulder. The series continues Wednesday (7:05 p.m.) and Thursday (12:35 p.m.), both on Channel 9, the latter when Clayton Kershaw (5-3, 2.86) makes the start.


NHL 2012 Awards Show from Las Vegas, 4 p.m., NBC Sports Network:

Jonathan Quick’s Vezina Trophy candidacy (he’s up for the top goaltender award against the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist and the Predators’ Pekka Rinne) reaches a verdict on the two-hour annual event from the Wynn Hotel. Quick is the first goalie in Kings history to finish in the top three in Vezina voting. The best previous finish was Kelly Hrudey’s fourth-place finish in 1991. The NHL Network has a one-hour red carpet special starting at 1 p.m.

MLS: Galaxy at Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56:


The Galaxy can only hope their 1-0 win against Portland on Sunday provides a lift after a seven-game winless streak is snapped. ”We just have to build on it, simple as that,” said David Beckham. ”Last season we played a lot of games like this where we won 1-nil and we kept the other teams in shutouts. We need more performances like this and were capable of it, so hopefully this will be our springboard.” The Galaxy returns after this one in Utah for a context against Vancover at Home Depot Center on Saturday (7:30 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56).
(Right: Galaxy midfielder David Beckham tackles the ball from Portland Timbers midfielder Franck Songo’o during the first half Sunday’s MLS game at Home Depot Center. AP Photo/Bret Hartman)


MLB: Miami at Boston, 4 p.m., MLB Network:

Zambrano vs. Dice K has some merit.



(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Don Mattingly, left, and Mike Scioscia discuss things of baseball nature before one of last week’s Dodgers-Angels games at Dodger Stadium.

MLB: Dodgers at Angels, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., Prime, FSW:

Dodgers newest ace reliever Kenley Jansen recorded his 10th save, as well as his first and second losses of the year, when the Angels took two of three at Dodger Stadium last week. The series, which may see the return of Jered Weaver to the Angels’ rotation, continues Saturday (4:15 p.m., Channel 11) and Sunday (12:35 p.m., Channel 9 and FSW).



(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, right, wins the women’s 100 meters ahead of Allyson Felix, center, and Carmelita Jeter at the Adidas Grand Prix track and field meet on June 9 in New York.

U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., 8 p.m., Channel 4 (delayed):


Allyson Felix is leaving the decision on which events she’ll run in the upcoming London Games this summer to coach Bob Kersee, but by all indications the former L.A. Baptist High star will give the 100 meters a legitimate shot in Day 2 for this 10-day event that serves as the U.S. Olympic qualifying. In the middle of last month, the 26-year-old Felix ran a 10.92 in the 100 at the Doha Diamond League meet — a personal best, second-best women’s time in the U.S. this year after the 10.81 that Carmelita Jeter posted in Jamicia a week earlier, and third fastest in the world this year. It’s less likely Felix will also run in the 400 meters on Sunday — she tried the 400/200m double at the 2011 World Championships, winning the 400, but was tired for the shorter sprint. The 200 final for the two-time Olympic sliver medalist and three-time world champion at that distance falls on Saturday, June 30. She finished third in the 200 at the recent meet in Daegu, more than a second off her personal best. Also on Sunday, the men’s 100-meter final is the highlight — can Justin Gatlin, who posted a season-best 9.87 last month, run away with it? — not long after the men’s and women’s 400, the men’s long jump and shot put and the women’s pole vault finals. NBC also delays coverage on Channel 4 from 7-8 p.m. Friday’s coverage on NBC Sports Network is live from 6-to-8 p.m.

(Above: Allyson Felix wins the 200-meters on June 2 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. Carmelita Jeter, left, finished fifth. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Boxing: Victor Ortiz vs. Joseito Lopez, Staples Center, 6 p.m. (delayed on Showtime at 9 p.m.):

The WBC silver welterweight title is on the line with Ventura’s Ortiz takes on Riverside’s Lopez.


Diving: U.S. Olympic qualifying in Seattle, noon, Channel 4:

Three-time Olympian Troy Dumais from Ventura, a U.S. national team member every year since 1996, could be there at the finish for the men’s 3-meter final. The 32-year-old finished fourth in the event earlier this year at the USA Diving Winter National Championships, but was first in the U.S. Olympic trials in ’08 and ’04. The women’s 3- and 10-meter final are on the schedule (the men’s 10-meter final is Saturday).

NASCAR: SaveSmart 350, Sonoma, noon, TNT:

A year ago, Kurt Busch led 76 of 110 laps and beat runner-up Jeff Gordon by 2.685 seconds to win his first race of the season and first on a road course. Tony Stewart, meanwhile, finished 39th, the career-worst road course finish. That was the result of Brian Vickers shoving Stewart into a tire barrier in lap 87, destroying the rear end of his Chevy.

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An open-minded Buddha approach could help those at the U.S. Open, if you ask me


The final pairings at Sunday afternoon’s U.S. Open is fortunate that I didn’t find my inner golf Budda until just the last couple of months.

Otherwise, that freakin’ trophy would be mine.

In my mind’s eye, I’ve played these 18 holes at the Olympic Club in San Francisco over the last three days, and I’m 22-under going into today’s final round.

How’d your card lookin’, Tiger?

Sorry, but I’m so yoga’d up right now, even I’m envious of my own near-perfected auspicious pose.

The whole purpose to get into a yoga fitness routine as a New Year’s resolution only came after finally dispelling the belief that this was something stay-at-home moms did to kill a few hours between trips to Starbucks.

My original idea of staying in shape was about getting more time on the exercise equipment, not in that sweaty glass room with the hardwood floor and the smelly mats with someone yelling at me to chaturanga.

Yet, it was sharping the mind through mediation, not medication, that became the most enlightening byproduct.


It’s not a stretch to say this all kind of started with a book I came across, “Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude,” by Neal Pollack. It revealed how yoga could be as a difference maker in other parts of my life.

Like, of all places, golf.
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