My Take: Erin Andrews

erin-joba

So a few days have passed since the whole Erin Andrews nude video flare-up, which is good. Because I’ve been trying, trying, trying, trying to decide what I think about the whole thing.

I’ve decided.

First and foremost, I’m disgusted. There is nothing funny, sexy, goofy, wacky, fun about taping a naked woman as she changes clothes through a peephole in a hotel. I hope they find the guy, I hope they coat his body in cheese and I hope they dangle him before a gaggle of over-sized rats.

There is, however, a greater issue here. Greater issues, actually. With rare exception, over the past decade ESPN (as well as other networks) has decided upon a rather unscientific (but not entirely universal) system for hiring its female sideline reporters and studio personalities.

A. They must have a working knowledge of sports.

B. They must speak English.

C. They must be “hot.”

For the record, I loathe the word “hot” as a description of attractive women. It’s a pathetic, fourth-grade sort of term. Once upon a time I thought Corrine Lee was “hot.” We were, however, both in sixth grade at Lakeview Elementary, and she was probably wearing braces, leg warmers and Sassons. In the world of male-dominated sports media, however , “hot” remains the adjective of choice—2009 style. It comes with a very explicit, definitive meaning—blonde, large breasts, long legs. Over the course of my career I’ve heard countless female peers tagged as “hot” by looming, foaming, sloppily dressed men, and I’m always mortified to be a part of the conversation. (My lowest moment, easily: Being in a spring training press box with Warren Cromartie, the one-time Expos star who was working for some local radio station. When a female radio reporter, no older than 23, walked away, he turned to a young colleague and uttered something along the lines of, “I bet you’d like to tap that ass, eh?”).

Hence, we have been presented with “talents” (the in-house ESPN word to describe its relatively talent-less employees) like Erin Andrews, Melissa Stark, Lisa Guerrero, Jill Arrington and Jillian Barberie-Reynolds. This is not meant to insult those women, per se, but to suggest that, across America, there are, without question, hundreds … probably thousands of more capable females who possess greater doses of depth, insight, intelligence—but who are too physically __________ (FILL IN THE BLANK WITH ‘FAT, SHORT, FLAT-CHESTED, DEEP-VOICED, HAIRY, PIMPLED, SCARRED, ETC’ …) to be considered. Truth is, ESPN knows the two (pathetic) realities of hiring women to work the sidelines and clubhouses: 1. Male athletes will always ignore male reporters in favor of the scent of perfume and a pair of long legs; 2. Male viewers will always ignore male reporters in favor of the sight of perky breasts and a pair of long legs.

When it comes to her job, which—if a reminder is needed—is as an on-air sports reporter, Andrews is OK. Not amazing. Not terrible. Just OK. Yet during her time with ESPN, she has been branded as anything but a journalist—by viewers, as well as the network itself. Countless magazines and websites have deemed her “hottest” reporter or sports personality. If you Google her name (which results in more than 10 million sites), two of the first four pictures that pop up are close-ups of her breasts and rear end. Yet I have never—never—heard anyone from ESPN’s offices criticize the response to Andrews, or insist that she deserves credit, first and foremost, as a reporter, or that the days of treating her as an object should end. The truth is, every time someone Googles “Erin Andrews” and “ass,” ESPN is getting attention. And, as we all know, ESPN loves attention—good, bad or indifferent.

Once again, the person who taped Erin Andrews should be asked to star in a new VH1 reality show, LOCKED IN A ROOM WITH FLAVOR FLAV AND 20 STARVED ALLIGATORS. But as everyone in the media—and everyone at ESPN—feigns disgust over the way Andrews has been treated, some people need to look in the mirror.

There are, after all, consequences to creating a sex symbol.

Real consequences.

5 thoughts on “My Take: Erin Andrews”

  1. Ah, I see. Because we all found her attractive and most sports fans and ESPN watchers are male, we’re all somewhat to blame for this?

    Hogwash. Why? Because the rest of us never crossed the line that the creepy videographer did. Finding her attractive and sexy with clothes on is no crime. And if she sucked at her job, we’d all mock her for that. One of the reasons we all found her sexy was that in addition to her wholesome cuteness, she actually did her job with competence.

    In addition, I doubt EA ever turned down career advancement even when she KNEW it was in part due to her looks. This line-crossing was way wrong, I agree with you and others there. But this growing sentiment that we’re all to blame because we thought she was cute is getting out of control.

  2. Jeff, you needed a few days to decide what you think about it? This is truly one of the most revolting violations of privacy I have ever seen – it’s not anyone’s fault but that clown and it’s certainly not Erin Andrews’ fault. Yes, her persona was created based on the fact that there is a significant audience for an attractive sideline reporter…but the rest of that audience stayed within the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Until this, Erin Andrews’ relationship with the bloggers/internet folks was mutually beneficial. Both sides got attention and an audience and reaped the benefits. This isn’t that stretched too far – this is a whole new ballgame brought about by the lowest of low.

  3. I’m sorry for Erin Andrews, nobody deserves what she got.

    That said, I don’t get the attraction. She’s pretty. She knows sports. That must be it…the combination of the two equates HOT.

    Here’s my issue…Erin Andrews doesn’t dress the part (and I’m not blaming her for her peep hole incident). But, what if a male sideline reporter showed up to cover a game in skin-tight jeans and a V-Neck sweater accentuating his pecks?

    Men wear suits when they’re on TV. The women should too. Take the sex appeal out of the wardrobe. After all, her job is to report on the game, not become the story.

    I don’t watch Erin Andrews (hell, I don’t watch much ESPN anymore), but it does bother me that the women sideline reporters have a different standard than the men. And I know the reason too.

  4. Jeff, I think you’re running out a well-written version of the “she was asking for it” defense. I’m not sure EA simply using the fact that she is attractive to break into a male dominated profession qualifies as seeking out becoming a sex symbol. She has never posed provactively in any magazines, she’s not selling swimsuit calendars…but because she’s attractive she (along with her employer) has to look into the mirror? I don’t see the connection.

    Someone completely, illegally violated her privacy. Even if she were an underwear model, I don’t see how she would somehow be complicit in the illegal act.

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