It's not just Erin Andrews: Horror stories of female sports reporters

Sportscaster and television host Erin Andrews waits for the jury to enter the courtroom Friday, March 4, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. Photo / AP.
Sportscaster and television host Erin Andrews waits for the jury to enter the courtroom Friday, March 4, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. Photo / AP.

They've had daggers covered in blood sent to them in the mail, been threatened with rape on social media and endured public accusations of sleeping their way to the top.

They are apparently among the most controversial figures in modern life - female sports reporters.

Fox Sports broadcaster Erin Andrews this week won a $75 million lawsuit against a Nashville hotel and an obsessive fan who secretly filmed her naked in her room and broadcast the footage online.

Ms Andrews sobbed in court as she recalled finding the footage. "I called my parents. I was just screaming. I said, 'Dad! I'm naked all over the internet. I don't know what it is! I don't know where I am!'

"I just kept saying, 'We gotta get it down. We gotta get it down.' And we can't get it down! And we're never going to get it off.

"For like three months, everyone thought it was a publicity stunt. That ripped me apart."

Ms Andrews, who is unlikely to receive the full payout since her stalker is not well off, became a different person after the incident, her mother said. "She's been humiliated, and the humiliation continues."


Jacquelin Magnay, a veteran Australian sports correspondent and who regularly appeared on shows including Offsiders and The NRL Footy Show, told that Ms Andrews' case "highlighted the vulnerability of female sports reporters and the danger they face when they are just trying to do their job."

She added: "Not only do they face constant criticism about their looks and knowledge of sports - and crass and lewd chauvinistic comments - they are increasingly having to ensure their personal security.

"I am really pleased the law has supported Erin and recognised what an awful time she has had because of this stalker and the actions of the hotel.

"When I was reporting on sport, I once had a dagger covered in blood sent to me in the mail, as well as death threats, which I reported to the police. I was not alone as other female reporters experienced, and continue to experience much harassment."


Channel Nine sports journalist and Footy Show presenter Erin Molan quit Kiis FM last year after being asked how many sportsmen she'd had sex with and whether she'd had a boob job.

She told that disparaging remarks were part of the job. "When I started I got a lot of 'You should be in the kitchen', and those were the nice ones," she said. "I've copped some nasty tweets and comments. You always see them, but I'm much better at dealing with them now. You've got to have a good support network and be in a good place. If I'm feeling tired and vulnerable, it will affect me more."

The 32-year-old was referred to as "a filthy b****" and threatened with violence on Twitter, but she said she had learned to cope. "I've felt horrendous at times, reading tweets. I'm not immune. I've learned to be resilient and strong.

"A lot of male sports journalists cop it horrifically, the difference is they'll cop it over what they said and did, we'll cop it on what we look like or wear."


Sports journalist Erin Riley, who has written for The Guardian and Fairfax, was viciously trolled after she complained about sexist and racist fan chants at the 2014 AFL Grand Final.

Twitter users called her a "disgraceful sexist man-hater" who "didn't know s*** about footy" and should kill herself, with one troll claiming to have contacted Tinder to "get Riley a root".

She told "They would comment on what I was doing, where I was going, it was really obsessive."

Eventually, after she got a tweet that read "I would murder Erin Riley if I had the chance", she went to the police, but "nothing really happened".

"It was really rough, I was really shaken up," she said. "It's still upsetting, but I've adjusted, I'm getting used to it.

"People on TV have a different audience to writers. There's an element of physicality with female TV presenters, their bodies are on display. There's that whole idea of it being OK to look at them and objectify them."

She said women's participation in the Big Bash, soccer and AFL had increased, but there still needed to be more female figures celebrated for their contribution to sport on and off the field.

"It's been a really slow journey, but it's 2016," she said. "You can't build a sustainable competition that's a space where women are not welcome. They're too big a part of the market to ignore."


Some blame a culture of sexism in sport, among some fans, players and even other reporters. In 2012, former rugby union player David Campese tweeted about the news a man had been replaced by Fairfax journalist Georgina Robinson: "Now we have someone who has no idea about the game!"

Incidents of this kind happen all the time. In one of the high-profile recent embarrassments, Big Bash League star Chris Gayle sent social media into meltdown when he flirted with McLaughlin in an on-field interview in January.

"I wanted to have an interview with you as well, that's why I'm here," the Melbourne Renegades player said live on national television. "I get to see your eyes for the first time, it's nice. Hopefully we can win and go for a drink after. Don't blush baby."

Channel 10's head of sport David Barham said McLaughlin was "a bit angry and upset" but she later tried to brush off the drama. "I've been embarrassed by the attention because it's not what I'm about," she said. "I was doing my job. I can handle myself.

"I know that a lot of people have had an opinion on it and I've had a lot of positive feedback ... but I don't even want to weigh into it.

"I understand why people wanted to talk about it. It is something that strikes a chord with people (but) I just want to do my job."

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