THE HOLLYWOOD bug tells the tale of girls in junior high donning their cheerleading uniforms, worshipping the hoop stars of the school’s varsity team, and using their flirtatious wink to catch the attention of the most sought after sports icons in the campus.

If you’re blaming the silver screen for conditioning our minds toward this stereotypical role of women in the world of sports, think again. Didn’t tradition teach us that women should stay at home, patiently wait for their husbands to bring them ice-cold water or hot stew? To hand them their slippers and kiss their feet after a long day of hunt? Maybe Eve’s descendants are destined to inherit the debt of their mother as a consequence of eating the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden–a penance meant to last forever.

When I entered the testosterone-dominated arena of sportswriting, I came to the point of enlightenment that women sportscasters are not exempted from this notion and are unfairly equated to “fan girls, water girls, paparazzis, stalkers, or groupies.”

In my two years of covering sports events for the Varsitarian, I’ve been wondering what the male players’ impression would be whenever I watch each and every game they play (including the off-seasons) had they not known that I’m from the campus paper. Would I appear as a low-class stalker or a die-hard fanatic if I followed them in the locker room for an important interview with the coach and the best player? This would be one of the days when I wished I was born biologically male–just as my name disguises my real gender–or at least I wish I could pretend to be one, so I’d be one of them. And with that, there won’t be any hesitation and awkwardness.

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I’m grateful that most of the UST coaches, athletes and officials are very accommodating in a way that they understand the nature of the journalist’s job, treating me not as an intruder but as part of the team, and lending me their time for a post-game interview, win or lose.

Since high school, I’ve been taught that there is no room for hero worship in sports writing. Fans line up to watch do-or-die games and they pay a huge amount of money, some even bargain with scalpers just to get those blockbuster game tickets that sell like hotcakes. Obviously, sports must not only be treated as pure entertainment, it is also a serious business enterprise. This is something women sports journalists should be aware of before venturing in the job.

But no matter how hard these women try to establish a name in the field, I can’t help but think that some of them are only treated as “decorations,” something that would market the viewership of the league. The pretty faces with charming diction that grace our TV screens during collegiate basketball games prove it. In Season 73, six out of eight UAAP courtside reporters are women. In the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), halftime break features are hosted by female correspondents. But if you think Eve should be completely impressed, think again.

Women get the chance to report from the “sidelines”, but the real front-runners are still the males. The more established male sportscasters such as Sev Sarmienta, Quinito Henson, Richard del Rosario, Mico Halili, Boom Gonzales, Chino Trinidad, and TJ Manotoc are the ones entrusted with dissecting games as main anchors or game analysts.

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Slowly but surely, female sportscaster Patricia Bermudez-Hizon, wife of former PBA cager Vince Hizon, is carving her niche in the male-dominated scene. Greater than the popularity she gained after her husband’s memorable wedding proposal to her at the halftime break of the Ginebra-Redbull clash back when she was still a courtside reporter, she is now known as the first and only female anchor in PBL and PBA.

Dyan Castillejo, former Philippine tennis champion, is also establishing her credentials. She has established herself in the world of boxing as Manny Pacquiao’s interviewer. She is also a popular host of TV shows such as ABS-CBN’s sports and fitness show, Sports Unlimited.

Women struggle to gatecrash in a media field regarded as a male bailiwick, no matter how professional they are. There will still be the label and the stereotyping, a debt Eve might have to pay for eternity. But I believe that somewhere over the rainbow, through faith and hard work, women will soon find their place in Adam’s world, to be respected and looked up to.

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