Playing Ball with the Boys: The Rise of Women in the World of Men's Sports

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Clerisy Press, Oct 25, 2010 - Sports & Recreation - 240 pages
7 Reviews
The use of female sideline reporters is the fastest-growing new aspect of televised broadcasts of professional and college football. Names like Suzy Kolber, Erin Andrews, and Andrea Kremer are now as well known as any of the men in the booth. In recent years women have been sports columnists and reporters, talk-show hosts, even coaches and team administrators. And yet there has never been a book about this phenomenon. 

Former ESPN news anchor Betsy Ross fills this void with Playing Ball with the Boys, a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the emerging role that women play in sports broadcasting and reporting as well as in the business of sports. Ross interviews a number of the biggest names—from Kolber and Kremer to USA Today columnist Christine Brennan and Lesley Visser and many others—who offer first-hand accounts of the struggles and the triumphs of women playing what has always been a man’s game.

She provides a history of this unique facet of the sports world, from pioneering female newspaper sports reporters to the celebrated breakthrough into televised sports by former Miss America Phyllis George, who is interviewed in the book. Ross covers the controversial moments, from locker room confrontations between players and female reporters to the infamous sideline interview in which Joe Namath attempted to kiss Suzy Kolber during a live broadcast. 

Readers also learn of women who played pro sports on male teams or coached men’s teams. They meet a woman who runs a professional baseball team and another who is a team doctor. 

Through this tale, Ross weaves her own story, recalling how she went from a small town in Indiana to the anchor’s chair at the largest sports network in the world, ESPN. She explains what it’s like for a woman to succeed in the male-dominated world of sports broadcasting.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - unknown_zoso05 - LibraryThing

As a freelance female sports writer, I found the topic of the book incredibly interesting. However, it lacks a deeper perspective of women's role in sports. Betsy Ross tells in the stories of her and ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - HilaryEvans83 - LibraryThing

As a female sports fan who enjoys sports and curses at the television way more than my husband does, I really enjoyed this book. I live about an hour and a half from ESPN, and this book made me want ... Read full review

Selected pages


Chapter 1 This Is SportsCenter
Chapter 2 It All Started on a Tennis Court
Chapter 3 From Radio to TV Women Change Sportscasting
Chapter 4 Women in the Booth
Chapter 5 Women Sports Reporters
Chapter 6 A League of Their Own
Chapter 7 The Business of Sports
Chapter 9 They Call Her Coach
Chapter 10 Driving Forces
The Next Generation
Photo Credits
About the Author

Chapter 8 Following Your Passion

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About the author (2010)

Betsy Ross was one of the first women to break into national sports media when she worked as an anchor on ESPN’s SportsCenter in the late 1990s. She held the position for five years. She is president and founder of Game Day Communications and has more than 20 years of experience as a sports and news anchor. Before anchoring SportsCenter and ESPN News, Ross worked at NBC News Channel and Cincinnati’s NBC affiliate, WLWT-TV, for seven years.

She continues to be involved in sports broadcasting as play-by-play anchor for women’s college basketball for ESPN, Fox Sports and other national and regional outlets, and as a sports reporter for Cincinnati’s FOX 19. She is the host of a weekly sports interview segment, “The Front Row,” that airs Saturday mornings on WVXU-FM, the NPR affiliate in Cincinnati. She also teaches a master’s level course, Sports and PR, at Xavier University. She is active in a variety of organizations, including the Special Olympics, and the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Women’s Sports Association.
Ross is a native of Connersville, Indiana, received her bachelor’s degree at Ball State University and master’s degree at the University of Notre Dame. She is on the board of the Ball State University Foundation. She has received the Sagamore of the Wabash award, the highest civilian award given to Indiana residents, and is a Kentucky Colonel.

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