Charles Barkley’s SI interview with Richard Deitsch continues to get around the interwebs. This time, Chuckles speaks of physical discrimination in sideline reporting (and the overall value of the job as well) and says “If you are an ugly woman, you have no chance of getting a TV job.” Here’s the full exchange…(and Charissa Thompson pictured above, is the polar opposite of ugly)
SI.com: How do you view sideline reporters on a broadcast?
Barkley: I don’t like sideline reporters at halftime because you’re asking coaches questions, and they are pissed off most of the time. Anything can happen when you are mad like that, especially if your team is getting its butt kicked. It’s always easy to interview the guy who is winning, but if you are getting your butt kicked, it’s a very awkward situation. You haven’t even had a chance to digest what you’ve been bad at, and they are asking what you have been bad at!
SI.com: That’s why I love interviews with Gregg Popovich. He’s great television when he makes reporters uncomfortable.
Barkley: Oh, he’s great. But I will tell you one form of discrimination no one ever talks about regarding sideline reporters.
SI.com: What’s that?
Barkley: If you are an ugly woman, you have no chance of getting a TV job.
SI.com: But if you dress like Craig Sager, you can still get hired, right?
Barkley: Hey, I think you have to dress like Sager to get a job now. I will say this: They have hot, great-looking women on TV now. But if you are an ugly woman, you ain’t got no chance of getting a TV job.
The Chuckster tells it like it is. While his statements lack political correctness, he’s dead on concerning the double standard in sports broadcasting. For Men, it helps to be physically attractive, but it’s anything but a prerequisite (see Chris Berman, Mike Tirico, Tony Siragusa etc.) For women, attractiveness might be the first priority in hiring. That’s why so many beauty pageant winners (Heidi Watney, Allie LaForce), bikini models (Jenn Brown, Melanie Collins) and cheerleaders (Erin Andrews, Jenny Dell, Michelle Beisner) get hired. Sure, the ability to do the job matters, but obviously the ability to catch eyes comes first. And competence in sideline reporting is a pretty easy to achieve- it’s not a hard job.
It’s stupid, sexist, and unfair, but it’s an unjust reality. Hopefully, the day will come soon when that changes. Noww when it comes to usefulness, really the only thing a sideline reporter (whether male or female, ugly or beautiful) contributes to the broadcast are injury updates. Those really are important. But I agree with Barkley that the halftime interview with the coach has got to go! That is an utterly useless endeavor and nothing good ever comes of it.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.