By Meredith Perri / APSE Diversity Fellow
During a conference where the discussions frequently centered around changes in the sports media industry, one of the largest signs on the Las Vegas strip highlighted a key topic of conversation — the rise of women’s sports.
Just beyond the Flamingo Hotel, where sports editors from across the country gathered for the annual APSE summer conference, the massive marquee played highlights from the Las Vegas Aces and advertised the upcoming WNBA All-Star Game.
Inside the conference, the conversation echoed some of what the sign represented. From the women’s Final Four to the women’s World Cup to next year’s Olympics, audiences continue to grow and desire more coverage of women’s sports.
During a general session on the first full day of the conference, The Athletic’s Lukas Weese moderated a panel on the changes in women’s sports coverage. Las Vegas Aces team president Nikki Fargas, ESPN reporter M.A. Voepel, USA TODAY Sports executive editor and vice president Roxanna Scott and APSE Diversity Fellow and MassLive Managing Producer Meredith Perri joined Weese for the conversation.
Along with discussing the way Fargas has approached branding for the Aces, the team president noted the importance of working with media to allow fans the opportunity to know female athletes the way they know male athletes. Fargas specifically spoke on the WNBA’s recent locker room policy changes, noting that she felt the players needed a level of education on the historical context of the situation.
Voepel, meanwhile, discussed the change he has seen in editors’ responses to his pitches. While at times he felt like editors would find every reason to say no, he has seen an increase in outlets’ desire to tell stories about women.
After Perri brought up the importance of equal coverage in high school sports and Scott discussed the work put into her team’s plan for women’s World Cup coverage, the conversation shifted to covering NILs and the current dynamic around female athletes who also use their appearance as part of their influencer platform.
Scott and Perri noted the need for writers and editors to look at the larger viewpoint and not reduce female athletes solely to their looks – find the more compelling story.
The panel also noted the importance of diversity in newsrooms, and how that diversity can impact the continued increase of women’s sports coverage.