SI Vault
Melissa Ludtke Lincoln
July 31, 1978
When the 1978 pro football season arrives, the face that helped send The NFL Today into first place in the Sunday ratings race will be gone. The departure of Phyllis George from CBS Sports for a career on the entertainment side of TV offers a unique opportunity to get a line on how the networks view the role of women on sports telecasts. Do they want women sportscasters in the George mold—that is, beautiful, effervescent women who don't know zilch about sports—or do they want them to be as knowledgeable as the better men sportscasters?
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July 31, 1978

Fancy Figures Vs. Plain Facts

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NBC hired Regina Haskins, a sportscaster from Sacramento. Instead of using her to interview or analyze, the network had her extract game predictions from a robot on a pro football show.

"Women sportscasters have to be even more knowledgeable than men," says NBC Sports President Chet Simmons. "When men make mistakes, viewers accept that, but women need to be perfect." Still, the executive producer at NBC Sports, Don Ohlmeyer, thinks things are looking up for female sportscasters. "In the past, women succeeded on local television because of their aggressiveness. They clawed to open doors. On the network level, whether you are a man or a woman, you have to be liked as a person. The next group coming along may not need to be so aggressive, and thus may be more acceptable to the male viewers."

The transition already is apparent on national network news. Says Martini, "Why can women talk about wars, riots and presidential trips and not be able to talk about sports? Why is there such a sacred bond between men and sports?"

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