It has been quite the year for women in sports — in July, Becky Hammon rose to the position of assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs while Jen Welter was hired by the Arizona Cardinals to also tackle the role of assistant coach. And on Tuesday, Oct. 6, history was made yet again as two-time Olympic gold medalist Jessica Mendoza took to the broadcast booth to call a nationally televised Major League Baseball playoff game on ESPN.
The Huffington Post reports that Mendoza provided color commentary for the New York Yankees/Houston Astros game with John Kruk and Dan Shulman, after the 34-year-old former softball player became a regular analyst for ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” in September.
While many viewers took to social media to post their praise and support for Mendoza with some saying that Mendoza is “giving hope to every girl who loves baseball,” others used their profiles to spew negative comments about Mendoza and her part in the broadcast.
One viewer tweeted, “why do i turn on baseball and hear a woman’s voice in the broadcast booth?!? we watch sports to get away from women,” while others called out male viewers who posted such negative comments. One tweet in defense of Mendoza came from viewer Jon Weisman, who expressed his disbelief over the lack of respect viewers showed Mendoza in this way: “Having read the hate speech on something as simple as a qualified woman calling baseball, I have to ask, is human decency really that hard?”
While The Huffington Post explains that Mendoza had faced similar criticism in her first history-making appearing on ESPN earlier this year in which she called an Arizona Diamondbacks/St. Louis Cardinals matchup, Mendoza has certainly not succumbed to the negativity being thrust her way.
“In an August interview with ThinkProgress, she said she’s learned to shrug off “the blatant sexism” that she faces regularly in the world of sports. ‘My mom got mad because some guy said, ‘you belong in the kitchen’ and that made me laugh,’ she said,” reports The Huffington Post.
Mendoza is not the first woman to face such backlash; in fact, Mendoza was approached by New York Yankees radio personality Suzyn Waldman, who started as a sportscaster in the 1980s and endured similar treatment. The Huffington Post says that Mendoza told Buzzfeed of a recent encounter with Waldman, in which the Yankees’ color commentator gave Mendoza her phone number, telling her to call any time she needed assistance.
Despite the criticism she received, Mendoza explained that her step into the broadcast booth has largely garnered positive, supportive feedback, telling Buzzfeed, “So many women together, and honestly, so many guys have reached out to me. It just gives me the continued confidence that we all love this game and we’re all doing this together.”
And we hope you continue to call games from the booth, no matter what anyone says. Thank you, Jessica Mendoza, for showing us that women belong in any industry they’re passionate about, and not just a kitchen.