Women in sports media have a tall hill to climb. They work in an industry dominated by men. Their physical appearance on camera is scrutinized. And if they cover football, then they might face a question like this: “You’ve never played the sport, so how would you know?”
Former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia attacked ESPN’s Mina Kimes in 2022, posting on social media, “...When was the last time she threw a touchdown pass in a game? Never! Ever!”
At the time of Garcia’s sexist comments, Kimes had already established herself as one of the top voices at ESPN, writing features on several NFL superstars like Aaron Rodgers, Darrelle Revis and DeAndre Hopkins.
And now comments from female sportscaster Charissa Thompson are hurting the credibility that Kimes and many other women have fought so hard for.
On a recent Barstool Sports podcast, Thompson said that she would sometimes — in an earlier stage of her sportscasting career — “make up” a sideline report.
After her initial comments, Thompson took to Instagram and wrote, “Working in media I understand how important words are and I chose the wrong words to describe the situation. I’m sorry. I have never lied about anything or been unethical during my time as a sports broadcaster.”
I’m not going to get into the fact that she is now saying she never did something she previously said she did.
I am going to acknowledge that her comments are harmful to other sports journalists — and especially women in the industry.
Thompson’s remarks have already caused damage.
Detroit weekend sports anchor and reporter Jeanna Trotman posted an email she received from a viewer on her X (Twitter) account. The message said, “You strike me as the Charisa Thompson type with your broadcasts and news reporting. You probably make up a vast majority of your stories you report.’”
You’d think such a concerned viewer would have taken the time to spell Thompson’s first name correctly.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with some extremely talented women in the field of sports journalism. I can say with confidence that they would never fabricate a report.
While there will be some who use Thompson’s remarks as an excuse to target female sports reporters, I hope many will come to see that her behavior is not typical.
Tracy Wolfson — the lead NFL reporter for CBS — posted on X regarding the situation, writing, “This is absolutely not ok, not the norm and upsetting on so many levels. I take my job very seriously, I hold myself accountable for all I say, I build trust with coaches and never make something up. I know my fellow reporters do the same.”
ESPN’s Molly McGrath chimed in on her own account: “Young reporters: This is not normal or ethical. Coaches and players trust us with sensitive information, and if they know that you’re dishonest and don’t take your role seriously, you’ve lost all trust and credibility.”
Unfortunately, Thompson has done just that — lost credibility.
I’m here to tell you that there are still countless women — and men — in this industry who can be trusted.