Thirty-three of the contributors on SB Nation’s MLB team brands are women. Sports media remains a male-dominated field, and we asked some of these sportswriters to look back on the season and share their thoughts and experiences with us. You can find all their responses via the link below, along with some common themes.
Baseball often started in the family
Women who love sports often get asked why. “For me, there’s no ‘how did you get into baseball,’ because I don’t remember getting into it; it always just was,” said Kate Preusser from our Mariners site, Lookout Landing. “I used to sit in front of the TV and mimic what was happening in the game with my stuffed animals and a set of cardboard bases.”
Indeed, most of our writers learned to love baseball because it was a natural part of their family life. Sara Sanchez of Bleed Cubbie Blue remembers how “my brother and I played wiffle ball in the living room with our dad until my mom made us move the game outside.”
They’ve all had some really cool experiences
Some of our sportswriters cited covering games as credentialed reporters as a highlight. For others, it’s simply the relationships they’ve built with their team’s community, or watching young players on their teams develop. Carmen Kiew from McCovey Chronicles interviewed Dereck Rodriguez when he was still in the minors, and asked him what it would be like to be called up.
“He was called up the next day,” she remembers. “Getting to see him under the bright lights of the big leagues after hearing his story was really rewarding.”
Other just value getting to express themselves: Tawny Jarvi of our Twins brand, Twinkie Town, says it’s “still absolutely baffling to me that I’m allowed to do this. Somehow when I turn a baseball sim into a time travel murder plot, or turn a game recap into a high fantasy story, people are like ‘Sure!’ and they publish it. That’s insane! The Twinkie Town community is full of amazing people and I’m truly grateful for every moment they don’t collectively decide to round me up and try me for witchcraft.”
The challenges are still real
Many women pointed to unequal treatment. “The worst experience I’ve had is probably when I was turned away at a clubhouse, a place I’ve been dozens of times, when I was covering the Triple-A All-Star game … right after my male colleague was waved through,” said Kate Preusser from Lookout Landing, our Mariners brand.
“When I first started out I had some friends suggest I should use a fake (male) name to do my writing, but I rejected that idea outright,” said Ashley MacLennan, of Bleed Cubbie Blue. “I’ve gotten my fair share of really awful comments (mostly about my appearance and weight, naturally) and some were downright violent (thanks to a domestic violence article I wrote), but I think it’s important that young women who want to get into this as a career can see women out there doing it actively and not hiding behind a fake name.”
Juggling a gig — even one you’re passionate about — with the pressures of family and a career creates challenges. But it isn’t always easy, as Stacie Wheeler from our Dodgers site, True Blue LA, explained.
“The biggest challenge I’ve faced is dealing with anxiety,” Wheeler told SB Nation. “As a mother of two, I’ve found it difficult to juggle being a mom, writing, plus my day job. It can get overwhelming at times. Staying true to myself and my voice has helped me to overcome any negativity I’ve received and the self-doubt that every writer faces at some point. Finding a balance and inspiration is difficult at times. Baseball has always been an outlet for me, even when the Dodgers are losing, and it’s completely intertwined in who I am.”
They often started as team brand readers and evolved into contributors
Many of the women who write for our team sites began as members of their team’s community and the FanPosts section. That was the case for Heather Simon from Viva El Birdos, our Cardinals site.
“As a college student, I often watched baseball alone as I studied, so it was nice stumbling upon this whole new culture of baseball fans,” Simon said. “I was hooked instantly and would occasionally write game recaps in the FanPosts section. Nothing fancy, just a few key plays and jokes, but they were well-received. When VEB needed more writers I was asked if I would contribute an article a week and I agreed without hesitation. That was five years ago. Now I am an editor writing five posts a week and co-hosting the podcast. It has been a wonderful experience!”
When asked who inspires them, they often point to local reporters who are women
Again and again, our contributors pointed to other women who cover a team as inspirations. Elizabeth Strom from DRays Bay wanted to acknowledge one of the female pioneers in baseball media, Claire Smith, who covered the Yankees for the Hartford Courant in the 1980s and was a groundbreaker not just as a woman, but as a woman of color.
“I know there are many women doing outstanding work now, but as someone nearing 60, I would like to give a shout out to Claire Smith, one of the first women to cover baseball for a general interest newspaper,” Strom told SB Nation. “It can be hard for women today to appreciate just how many doors were closed to her — quite literally, as there were teams unwilling to let a woman into the clubhouse. That there were some women who persevered in the 1980s and 1990s gives way to the opportunities for women in the 2000s.”