AWMF and ESPN Create Scholarship for Black Women Working Toward Careers in Sports Media

By Thomas Price Friday, October 16, 2020

Representation in the world of sports is still an issue that must be grappled with. Despite sports continuing to be incredibly diverse among the actual players, it is certainly less so in sports media. This problem is especially prevalent for Black women. A major cause of this disparity could be attributed to the lack of opportunities and encouragement for Black women to enter sports media fields during college and graduate school. That, however, is trying to be changed. Through the collective effort of The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF) and ESPN, a new scholarship has been created to help support Black women looking to create careers in sports media. What exactly are the details involved with this scholarship, and will this make a large impact on representation in the media?

About the Scholarship

ESPN donated $10,000 to the AWMF, which will serve as a scholarship to support Black women currently working toward careers in sports media. As it currently stands, this scholarship will be awarded to two different Black women; one working toward an undergraduate degree and one working on a graduate degree. The two women will be chosen after a nationwide search where all applicants for the scholarship will write a 750 to 1,000-word essay about the importance of Black women in sports media. Both winners will also receive an invitation to the 2021 Gracie Awards Luncheon in New York City. The event has been a celebration of the achievement of women in the media taking place every year since 1975. The deadline to apply will be November 20. While the scholarship donation from ESPN may be small, the partnership between them and the AWMF can be a significant one for an industry that still struggles heavily with representation.

Representation in Sports Media

Representation, diversity, and inclusion for sports media have been areas that have certainly seen improvement in the last few years but is still an area where much more could be done. According to the Associated Press Sports Editors Racial and Gender Report Card, the industry as a whole has generally moved to a more inclusive environment but still struggles heavily.

As of 2018, 85% of sports editors are white, and 76.4% of assistant sports editors were also white. When looking at gender, for those exact same positions, 90% of sports editors were men, and 69.9% of assistant sports editors were also men. For sports columnists, 80.3% were white, with 83.4% of them also being men. Sports reporters had very similar statistics with 82.1% of them being white and 88.5% of them being men.

Across the entire industry study, there were only 89 total women who were assistant sports editors. The number for female columnists is even more sparse, standing at 44 total. Of those 44 female columnists, only four of them are Black. While these numbers may be slightly disheartening, the industry is shifting significantly. Especially for the position of assistant sports editor, people of color and women both saw a significant increase. For women, that increase equates to a 20% boost; for people of color, the increase was 14%. Similar upticks can also be seen in the columnist field as well, though not quite as high.

Final Conclusions

Representation in the sports media clearly still has major changes ahead. However, it is also clear that the current demographics of the industry are shifting. With more people of color and women in positions nearly across the board in comparison to 2014, the movement to create a more diverse coalition of editors, assistant editors, columnists, and reporters is slowly happening. In fact, sports media companies like ESPN are leading the way for more diversity in the industry in their own hiring practices. Their donation and partnership with the AWMF only solidifies that sentiment. The scholarship itself, especially if it is to become an annual one, represents a concerted effort to support Black women who are severely underrepresented in the industry to build strong careers within it.

About the Author

Headshot of Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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