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Women in sports television should not be a marketing gimmick

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CBS is promoting a new sports show produced, directed and hosted by all women. But why the back-patting for this, instead of using women in all CBS sports shows?

How about you add a woman to this panel instead, dummies
How about you add a woman to this panel instead, dummies
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When I started here at SB Nation, I told myself I would stay away from writing about women’s issues for a while, for fear of being pigeonholed. That lasted a week, thanks to a sigh-inducing announcement from CBS.

On Friday it was revealed that the network was working on an all-female sports talk show. CBS, rather than proudly share the news of this all-female project on its own, chose to let The Big Lead announce the show in a press release disguised as a fawning piece of "investigative journalism." From the announcement on TBL:

"CBS Sports will make television history in September when it debuts the first all-female sports talk show, the network confirmed exclusively to The Big Lead."

But it’s not the first, as Inside Edition’s Lisa Guerrero was quick to point out, via Awful Announcing. We’ll forgive the revisionist history for now because the crowing gets worse.

"The weekly show, which will air on CBS Sports Network, will not only feature an all-female cast, but will also be produced and directed by women."

Produced AND directed by women! Hot damn. It’s a shame women haven’t been producing and directing great sports content already.

"It’s long overdue," CBS Sports president David Berson told TBL of this new all-female venture.

Actually, it’s not.

David Berson

David Berson, Photo credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The list of women in prominent sports producing and directing roles is long, and networks were quick to send over examples when I asked for them. Stephanie Medina directs FOX’s NFL Sunday pregame show. Judy Boyd is FOX’s coordinating producer for MLB, college football and UFC coverage. FOX considers Carol Langley to be one its top MLB game producers.

At ESPN, coordinating producer Amy Rosenfeld was a part the network's World Cup coverage. Marcia Keegan, vice president of production for ESPN, oversees production of studio shows, much like the one CBS is touting, such as Outside the Lines and First Take.

And CBS itself has Suzanne Smith, who has been directing NFL games on the network for the last 30 years. Where’s her press release?

More from the TBL announcement:

"CBS would not reveal the show’s format, but sources say it will be something akin to The View meets Pardon the Interruption."

Great. It sounds like the pink jersey of sports television.

Great. It sounds like the pink jersey of sports television.

According to CBS Sports, the CBS Sports Network produces more than 2,200 hours of original programming a year. The network could have chosen to add more women to its existing programming, including them in the conversation and sitting them alongside their male colleagues. Instead, the network is creating its own little corner for the women to play in and calling it groundbreaking.

None of this is to say that I’m not totally supportive of increased roles for women in sports. But forgive me for not being thrilled to see a network using women as gimmicks in a transparent marketing ploy.

When interviewed by Sports Illustrated last year about her three decades producing football games for CBS, Smith had this to say.

"I have always thought of myself as a TV director, not as a female TV director."

Perhaps her network should take note.