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Women in DFW Sports won’t let anything get them down

One of the things Dana Larson looks forward to in her job most is taking on a new adventure each day.

“I love that, despite playing 162 games for baseball or 82 for basketball, every game is distinctly different than the others,” the Fox Sports Southwest studio host says. “Every day we have a new or different storyline to prepare for or wrap up. And I am in the very fortunate position of getting to tell that story.” 

But has Larson had to endure any issue of sexism in the road to her now 12-year tenure at the biggest cable sports station in the Southwest?

“I have been very lucky that I have had very few negative experiences during my career. There has been the occasional athlete that was disrespectful or inappropriate but for the most part my working environment has been comfortable.”

To hear that people like Larson and Emily Jones have been able to enter the still male-dominated world of sports with relative ease can be a comforting take on the changing world of sports and diversity. Though some women, journalists and fans alike, still must deal with prejudice, that number keeps dwindling.

Longtime baseball and Rangers fan Emily Cates has had her share of bad moments.

“I have experienced verbal harassment at games before. Men yelling things in my direction, or commenting as I walked by. Thankfully I’ve never been physically threatened or harassed. I wouldn’t say it’s a regular occurrence, but it has happened more than once to me or a friend.”

Still, the contributor to shutdowninning.com can recall more enjoyable memories as well from people that admired her intelligence.

“Just the other day, I sat by some 30-something year-old men at a game who let me talk their ear off about prospects and farm systems and what the Rangers needed to do to get better. They called me a ‘fountain of baseball knowledge.’ It was fun. I’ve definitely interacted with a lot of men who respect me as a sports fan.”

People like Cates are able to contribute to sports blogs like ShutdownInning with no problem, while the sports editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is a female. It seems clear that women’s representation in sports is very healthy. Female participation in high school and college sports is at all-time highs, and leagues like the WNBA continue to endure.

However, one could argue that women still have to endue big and unfair hardships, as indicated by incidents like the supposed reasoning for 105.3 The Fan deposing all its female talent in 2013.

At one time, The Fan had three women regularly on the air in Jasmine Sadry, Sybil Summers and Jane Slater. By the end of 2013, all three were let go by new program director Gavin Spittle.

Sadry was the first to be cut, with multiple sources saying the main reason was Spittle’s desire to “get rid of the estrogen” from the station. Still, she prefers to not look back on the negatives too much

You have your listeners at every station that are sort of out there, you know, they harass you for different things… sports media in general, I’ve gotten the girl jokes throughout my career… it’s nothing new to me, and I’m kind of the girl that can roll with the punches anyway.”

All three ladies have resurfaced on the air in DFW. Sadry is now on 102.1 The Edge with the reformed “Jagger Mafia,” Summers is now a DJ on 103.7 KVIL, and Slater became a sports reporter for KTVT Channel 11, replacing longtime reporter Gina Miller.

On the surface, The Fan’s largest competitor, Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket, would seem even worse toward women. The Metroplex’s largest sports radio station has never employed a woman among its regular on-air talent, and the “frat boy” environment that the station projects on the air includes frequent ridiculing of women in the form of segments like “Women Say the Darndest Things About Sports” and hosts calling female writers they don’t like “b****es.”

“It’s tricky with them,” says Cates, who adds that she does listen, but not as often as before. “They say it’s all a bit, the sexist remarks and the degrading women thing, but at some point, I just couldn’t handle the bit anymore. I don’t think anyone personally is really that sexist on the station, but sometimes the bit comes off as over the top, and it makes me uncomfortable.”

Representatives from The Ticket were not available for comment, but the station’s dedicated listeners, the “P1s,” defend the hosts’ actions vehemently.

“When have they EVER said all women are stupid?” Isaac Sturges demands. “There are several female P1s that are regarded as highly as any male P1 to the hosts… it’s meant to just point out goofy things that are said by women who aren’t sports fans. There is zero ridicule. And the drive time show calls everyone a b****. Not just women.”

Getting defense from listeners is one thing. But for what it’s worth, some of the female journalists in the area have managed to look past 1310’s image.

“Early in my career, those type of people definitely bothered me,” Larson says. “But over time, you realize they are just trying to be funny on the air, caught up in that fraternity-type atmosphere. You just continue to work hard and believe in yourself. They are harmless. And in fact, I have been able to get to know many of them and have great relationships with them. They know how hard I work. And also, I think some of that has helped me realize that I don’t need to take myself or this job so seriously.”

The issue of how women are treated in society and the hardships they face through harassment and the threat of violence against them hit a boiling point over the Memorial Day holiday. After Eliot Rogers killed six UC-Santa Barbara students and was revealed to have been a “men’s rights activist” who claimed he wanted revenge on women for his inability to get sexual relations, people flooded Twitter and other social media sites with examples of what women go through in life. The “#YesAllWomen” movement was intended to say that it doesn’t matter that “not all men” commit such acts of violence because all women are always in danger of being victims.

The movement drew polarizing opinions, to say the least.

“I think it’s a stupid hashtag and a ridiculous idea,” says Jeff Cavanaugh, who is on The Fan’s mid-day show, “G-Bag Nation.” “The majority of the world cares about people, treats people the way they want to be treated, and attempts to right wrongs when they can. Everyone standing on a soapbox about whatever idea is hot at the moment is fine if that’s what folks wanna do, but I don’t know how much you’re actually going to accomplish… Yelling out that ladies get abused and harassed isn’t going to make people go “oh my, I SHOULD treat the ladies better”. The vast majority of the population already knows that.”

And people like Cates are not letting the outcries affect her own judgment.

“I’m not always scared. I have the knowledge, awareness, and preparation to defend myself if need be, so I don’t have to live in complete fear. And yes, most men are good people, but the fact that I have to prepare myself for a confrontation just to feel safe should show everyone why this is so important. I’m not saying I’m never scared, but I’m not always scared.”

For now, Cates, Larson and others simply go about their business, confident in knowing they have their supports in a world much more diverse than it was before, but one that is working for even more diversity.




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