On Monday, ESPN announced that Beth Mowins and Rex Ryan will be in the booth for the Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers Monday Night Football game as part of the network’s season-opening doubleheader.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) May 16, 2017
Backlash to the announcement has been predictably swift. Not only are sexist complaints being hurled in Mowins’ direction, but people are also angry about Ryan as well. Surprisingly, his gender has had nothing to do with their disapproval – rather it’s his lack of experience in the booth – something which Mowins possesses in abundance.
Unfortunately, viewers at home on their couches – who could never sniff her job in a million years – have a massive problem with being reminded of that, and so we get this pathetic display of unquenchable insecurity:
@ESPNNFL I hope Beth brings some of her football stories of her paying days to the broadcast.
— Billd (@DunganBill) May 16, 2017
@ESPNNFL Rex and ray Lewis would be awesome.
— Jason Moose Ciano (@Chargersmoose) May 16, 2017
— The Truth (@Bluesy_T) May 16, 2017
— John (@FromEastLansing) May 16, 2017
— mike schaetzer (@mikes1519) May 16, 2017
— Brock (@B_Raw14) May 16, 2017
— Kash (@boomersoonertwt) May 16, 2017
@SportsCenter Why her? Why not Rachel Nichols or Suzy Kolber or literally anyone else?
— Nathaniel (@Hoosier2012) May 16, 2017
That last one is the perfect example of how women in the business are clumped together into one catch-all group of “ladies in sports media.” That’s like asking why they hired Mike Tirico for MNF instead of Scott Van Pelt or Adam Schefter. It’s remarkably stupid.
Let’s be very clear about one thing that is not up for debate: a play-by-play announcer for an NFL game must have two base qualifications. The first is that they have a deep and complex understanding of the rules, the league and the teams. The other is that they have previous game-calling experience.
They don’t need to have played in the NFL. They don’t need to have played in college. They don’t need to be the same gender as the people on the field. This is not my opinion, these are the actual facts of the job – as evidenced by decades upon decades of male broadcasters who’ve competently called games in a sport they’ve never played, and others who’ve incompetently called them in a sport they have played.
Mowins is more than qualified to call an NFL game. She has worked as a play-by-play commentator for ESPN since 1994, and in her 23-year tenure with the company, she’s called more games in various sports than most of us have ever even watched.
Here are some of her play-by-play credentials:
- NCAA Championships in basketball, softball, soccer and volleyball
- Voice of Women’s College World Series for over 20 years
- 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany
- ESPN college football since 2005
- Men’s & women’s college basketball
- Oakland Raiders preseason games since 2015
As a sports media veteran and someone who has already called NFL preseason games, she’s as natural a candidate for the gig as just about anyone out there.
That doesn’t mean you have to like her style, or abstain from critiquing her in the way we critique all play-by-play announcers. It’s one of the hardest jobs in sports broadcasting because it is so easy for viewers and even other members of the media to fact check from the comfort of our offices, cubicles and La-Z-Boys. We’re all guilty of it.
Mowins will no doubt have her quirks that drive some people bonkers. She’ll probably annoyingly mispronounce some names, like every broadcaster does at some point – and maybe the way she fills time or uses anecdotes will irk people. I might personally dislike how she calls the games. That comes with the territory.
But to argue that she’s not qualified? That’s downright laughable. Shut the fuck up and enjoy the football game and stop fronting like you’re not going to watch. You will, because anyone who writes sexist shit on the internet for attention and validation is the definition of a lemming.