The National Football League is not solely to blame for the response to the Ray Rice domestic violence incident, says Fox Sports' Katie Nolan. Rather, sports media's overarching problem with female representation is a deeply rooted issue that must be weeded out before true change can flourish.
Nolan is the digital correspondent for Fox Sports' live show "Crowd Goes Wild." The Hofstra University graduate joined Fox after working for Guyism, where she was the only female voice on the male-oriented site.
It's fitting Nolan would choose to frankly discuss the NFL and sports media in the wake of TMZ's release of footage showing Baltimore Ravens running back Rice punching then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an elevator at a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Rice was ultimately suspended indefinitely by the NFL, but many were left shocked by the NFL's initial two-game suspension.
While some are calling for a boycott of the NFL, Nolan says she isn't doing that because "a boycott means walking away," and she "would rather fight back."
That, she says, starts with calling out sports media for the representation of females within the industry.
"Women in sports television are allowed to read headlines, patrol sidelines and generally facilitate conversation for their male colleagues," she said. "Sometimes they even let us monitor the Internet from a couch. While the Stephen A. Smiths, Mike Francesas, Dan Patricks and Keith Olbermanns of the world get to weigh in on the issues of the day, we just smile and throw to commercial. A lot of people like to justify women's supporting role in sports media by saying, 'Well, they've never played the game, so they just aren't qualified to speak about it.' Because god forbid someone misspeak about the game. But topics like domestic violence, racism and corruption? Let's let Boomer handle those between downs."
"It's time for the conversation to change, or at least those participating in the conversation," she continued. "It's time for women to have a seat at the Big Boy table, and not where their presence is a gimmick or a concept, just a person, who happens to have breasts, offering their opinion on the sports they love and the topics they know. Because the truth is the NFL will never respect women and their opinions as long as the media it answers to doesn't."