Sideline Barbie

Mallory Tucker

I’ll graduate in December, so the inevitable question is starting to come up a lot: “What do you want to do when you graduate?”

When I tell people I want to work in sports, their first instinct is to compare me to Erin Andrews.

“Oh, so you want to be Erin Andrews?”

“Oh, so you want to be a sideline reporter?”

“Oh, you want to be on TV?” Honestly, I’d much rather sit in a press box and keep stats than ever be on camera, and although I enjoy the sideline, I don’t see myself particularly enjoying a frozen Lambeau anytime soon.

But because I’m a girl and because I’m blonde and because I want to work in sports, the only comparison that people make is Andrews. And although she is a huge role model of mine and undoubtedly one of the hardest workers in the sports business, I can’t imagine gaining her level of success and fame just to be treated the way she is.

How is she treated? She is constantly put down by men who say her success came solely from her looks rather than her work ethic. Now that she has branched out and works on Dancing With the Stars, she is criticized – despite the fact that she’s been a dancer her whole life, even dancing on the Florida Gators’ dance team during college.

At the beginning of her career, Andrews was referred to as Sideline Barbie, which I can find some humor in. I even contemplated this as the name of my column for a long time, but in the end I feared its irony would be lost on the many readers who would actually take me seriously for once – of course in the wrong situation.

Yet in so many work situations I find myself truly feeling like a sideline Barbie doll. Too often I’m the only woman in the room, a mass of blonde hair and cute shoes, interviewing men twice my size while sitting next to men twice my age.

As a sports journalist, I am the elephant in the room, and I know this will be the case even as I venture out into my next place of work, wherever that may be. If I continue to work in sports, as I hope to do, I know I will be the minority. I have accepted this as truth, but I have yet to accept it as actually acceptable.

I analyze more stats in one season than most men do in their lifetimes, but because I have long hair and the wrong genitalia, I still know nothing. I get tweets directed at me that say: “Stick to tweeting about something other than sports.” To that I say: Take your attitude back to the pre-19th Amendment era where it belongs, and kindly unfollow my Twitter on your way out.

And because Erin Andrews is beautiful, she is just considered “eye candy,” rather than someone who studies the game – whatever game she is covering on that particular day – and works her butt off for every penny she makes. (Side note: Andrews’ net worth is $3 million, and she is more famous than her seven-time Emmy-award winning journalist father, Steven Andrews.)

For now, the world of sports is still run by and for the “Good old boys,” but I have hope that one day we’ll see just as many “Sideline Barbies.” And even crazier than that, maybe someday we won’t be called Barbies, or girls or even women, but just co-workers.

Until that day comes, I’ll be working hard and quietly behind the scenes, knowing that I have just as much right to be there as the men that are next to me.

Column by Mallory Tucker, Sports Editor