OPINION: Fox's NFL studio show desperately needs a female voice

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Despite recent strides, women continue to be underrepresented in sports media. Not only are women granted fewer opportunities—often at a lower salary and with less job security than their male counterparts—but many are also subject to abuse and online bullying, harassed and objectified by men who, rather than confront their own insecurities, deflect through rampant misogyny and sexism. It’s a frustrating dynamic, particularly in the realm of pro football, a sport inundated with toxic masculinity, negative stereotypes and a maddening aversion to progress.

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While Kay Adams, Mina Kimes, Amy Trask, Maria Taylor, Laura Rutledge and Samantha Ponder have all emerged as household names, visible female presences in a predominantly male field, Fox’s studio show for Sunday night’s game between Dallas and San Francisco badly missed the mark with its panel of seven male analysts, depriving audiences of a needed female perspective.

Former players and coaches provide valuable insight and experience, which is why so many land broadcasting gigs after their careers are over. However, it’s not exactly inspired casting or even an accurate representation of the NFL’s viewing audience, which is almost half female.

Too often, networks like Fox and ESPN confuse star power for prestige and quality, hoping that packing enough celebrities in one room might elevate their product beyond the usual cliched analysis of “back when I played.” Instead, it’s become a formula for stale, wholly uninteresting television, reciting the same tired notes over and over.

Fox’s on-air crew of Curt Menefee, Rob Gronkowski, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson and Sean Payton is the latest example of male privilege in sports, rewarding former pros at the expense of talented women who deserve to have their voices heard. It’s also just bad business, neglecting an important demographic with enormous potential for growth.

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