“They’ve Never Played the Game”: “Cool Sports Girls,” Gender Inequality, and Garbage Time in Sports Punditry

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Taylor M. Henry Visual and Sound Media, College of Communication and the Arts, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ, USA

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In the 2010s, certain women in the sports television industry ascended beyond the often-reductive roles of studio hosts or sideline reporters, giving their sports opinions and occasionally hosting their own programs. This article argues that women who achieve this standing are forced to play a new role, that of the “cool sports girl.” Although “cool sports girls” gain male support through adopting masculine-coded traits, such as sports knowledge and smack talk, this article examines the misogynistic backlash these women face, interpreting the backlash as representing finite boundaries of the gains that women have achieved in a hypermasculine industry. This article reads the tenure of Katie Nolan at Fox Sports (2013–2017) as a representative example of how female television pundits exhibit agency amid entrenched industrial patriarchy.

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