As the basketball season has started to wind down (at least for my team), I’ve taken a lot of time to reflect on what this last season meant for me. As a Nuggets fan, I not only got to watch from the sidelines but I was given opportunities that so many people could only dream of having.
In December 2016 I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline when I saw something that caught my eye from somebody I had just started following. It was a post from RBI’s CEO and Founder Rafael Torres searching for writers for a brand new Denver Nuggets site as part of the Real Ball Insiders network. Without a moment of hesitation I immediately tweeted him back saying that I was interested. Rafael messaged me on Twitter later on that morning telling me how to register to become a contributor for Dig in Denver, and he added me to the Dig in Denver GroupMe chat. Rafael didn’t even bat an eye and took a chance on me before he even knew if I even had the capability to be a quality addition to the team. Once he told me I was in, I immediately asked him a million and one questions (sorry, Rafael). My final question to him was, “You really don’t care that I’m a woman wanting to write about sports?”
His reply was great and I fully believe that every woman in sports media should be welcomed the way that he welcomed me.
“We will welcome you just as we welcome every writer. The fact that you’re a woman doesn’t cloud our judgement and we will promote all of our articles equally.”
I’ve been a sports fan since the day that I left the womb and basketball has always been my biggest passion. The first professional basketball game I ever went to was a Nuggets game with my mom when I was 10 and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Cut to 14 years later and I was officially part of the Real Ball Insiders team with Dig in Denver, and it took a few days for me to figure out what I had wanted to write my first article about. After watching the first 2 months of struggle for the Nuggets, I chose to write about what the identity of the Nuggets was. It wasn’t my strongest article to date but it was my first one within the basketball realm (I had written on many other topics before). I’ll never forget that Rafael sent us a group message saying that the article was getting so many views that it shut down the server. Thank yours truly for having to upgrade to a bigger, better server.
While I had gotten praise from many people, including my trusted team, I still had many people sending me messages saying that a woman has no business writing about sports and that I should give it up. When you’re first starting out, you have two choices: let others words define you and give up, or keep pushing through and prove everybody wrong. I’ve never been a quitter so I pushed and pushed and never gave up, even when the world kept wanting me to fail.
After a month of being on the team, I received a text from Rafael asking me if I would be able to attend a Nuggets practice and I happily agreed and made the drive up to Denver. That was the day that I was able to attend my first practice where I was met the Nuggets PR team, a few other reporters, and head coach Michael Malone.
After that day, I wasn’t just obsessed with the sport but with the excitement of getting those behind the scenes looks that others rarely get. After that, Rafael officially made me the reporter for the Dig in Denver team. He also appointed Derek Perez and myself as the admin for the Dig in Denver site.
I’ve read time and time again how difficult women in the media tend to have it and I luckily, for the most part, have not had to deal with what many other women have. I have been respected by the reporters that I have surrounded myself with and the players that I have interviewed and I have been very lucky thus far. Unfortunately, not all women have the same respect that I have been fortunate to have.
Traditionally, sports media is a very difficult to be in for women, as it has always been difficult for women to be apart of and be taken seriously. Yes, this is 2017 but sadly sexism is still very real. Statistically speaking, men (more so caucasian men) greatly outnumber women in sports media and statistics from 2012 (yes, I know that was 5 years ago) show that 90% of sports editors are of caucasian descent and 90% are male.
An ASNE newsroom census cited that newsrooms were 63.1% male and 36.9% female in 1999. In 2012, it so happened that those percentages stayed the exact same. In 2013, men made up 62.7% of newsrooms and women dropped to 36.3%. A 2015 census states that 63% of newspapers have at least one woman among top three editors. Another study showed that male sources in New York Times front page stories actually outnumbered their female counterparts 3.4:1 in January and February of 2013.
So where does that put me as a 24 year old Hispanic female?
I’m not entirely sure but I’m planning to pass up that glass ceiling somehow.
A few days ago, the Vice President of Real Ball Insiders tweeted that he didn’t know what he should write about. I jokingly tweeted back that he should tweet about his RBI family but he took that seriously. Below is a quote that resonates with me from that article:
“In a field dominated by men, you bring the intensity that would make any woman proud.”
I can’t think of many times in my life where something that somebody said truly resonated for me for this long but this has made me want to push harder and be the best that I can possibly be. I don’t just want to be another statistic out of the state of New Mexico. I want to continue with a full time career in sports media. I want to be somebody.
With all of that being said, I am very grateful for the team that I have surrounded myself with and am fortunate that the men on this team are supportive, kind, and treat me as an equal and not lesser than them.
To all women who are in sports media or who want to be, I give you my 100% praise, respect, and support. I’ll be your biggest fan and cheer you on, just as others have cheered me on. To those who have supported me, thank you–the support hasn’t gone unnoticed.