Sportscasting has long been a field dominated by men, especially in professional men’s leagues like the NBA. No longer.
Last week the NBA featured two all-women and non-binary commentating lineups for the first time.
In honor of Women’s History Month, the Toronto Raptors featured an all-women announcer lineup during their game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. Then on Saturday, the Sacramento Kings showcased only women and non-binary announcers during their game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on NBC Sports California.
“This [was] a collaborative effort between the Kings and NBC, to spotlight diverse voices, said John Rineheart, Sacramento Kings president of business operations. “An idea was formed and brought to fruition by strong women leaders from both organizations.”
Krista Blunk previously worked as a play-by-play announcer for ESPN and as an analyst for the WNBA team Sacramento Monarchs for over a decade. And Saturday marked her first time announcing a NBA game.
“You start to see one or two women getting the chance to do this, and getting any opportunity has always felt like a big deal,” Blunk told Know Your Value. “I never would have imagined this. Never.”
Katye Hunter has served as a sideline reporter and analyst for the Kings for 11 seasons. On Saturday, Hunter (also a former WNBA player) worked with only women and non-binary announcers for the first time. She told Know Your Value that the global NBA audience will benefit from the newfound diversity.
“NBA fans are getting to see women step into a role where they generally see men,” said Hunter. “It’s a different voice … We offer different perspectives and outlooks on the game, because we see it differently.”
Other announcers Saturday included NBA and NFL host Laura Britt, WNBA all-star Layshia Clarendon and NBA G League analyst Morgan Ragan. Clarendon identifies as trans and gender non-conforming or non-binary.
The broadcasters handled all play-by-play announcements and analysis throughout the game.
The NBA isn’t alone in their nod to female announcers. On March 8, an NHL game on NBC Sports featured an all-female broadcast and production crew for the first time in the league’s history.
Still, it’s hard to call it a trend, according to Blunk.
“I think it will level itself out in some ways, but it will take time…” said Blunk. “There’s something to be said about seeing the different sides —male, female—they’re all great options.”
Hunter said she was torn about celebrating the all-female announcer lineup too much.
“I’m super stoked, but there’s also a conundrum when you shine light on a bunch of women doing a thing. We don’t want to be viewed as this sideshow. You want people to look at you as an analyst, not just as a woman,” said Hunter.
The industry has a long way to go. Broadcast announcers are over 76 percent male and the annual pay gap between male and female announcers is more than $15,000 on average. Historically, women haven’t been considered for announcer jobs as often, said Hunter. Hopefully, more representation will move the needle.
“The industry is already kind of making progress in terms of including more women in the interview pool for these jobs,” Hunter said. “We just want the opportunity to show that we’re the best person for the job, whether we’re men or women.”