ESPN’s Sarah Spain says ‘middle-aged white dude’ executives are missing ‘massive’ opportunities by ignoring women’s sports

News & Politics

ESPN personality Sarah Spain said that she was stifled in her attempt to bring a women’s sports show to the network, despite having multiple sponsors on board.

Spain has worked with ESPN for two decades and has made many controversial statements about pushing women’s sports broadcasting forward. She has often been at odds with others in the industry while accusing them of bigotry.

During an interview on “Sports Media with Richard Deitsch,” Spain claimed that ESPN rejected multiple pitches for women’s sports shows on the network.

‘When you get to the top of most places, it is still a middle-aged white dude.’

“Between the [NWSL’s Chicago] Red Stars and my many pitches of a women’s sports show to ESPN that did not go answered, there is still this feeling sometimes of, ‘Man, I wish I had a billion dollars,'” Spain said, according to Awful Announcing.

The reporter then blamed executives who don’t “buy in” and do research about how profitable such programming could be.

“When you get to the top of most places, it is still a middle-aged white dude. And they have to buy in, and they have to do the work, and they have to read the data, and they have to update themselves on the analytics. They have to recognize that they are being told, ‘You are years behind a massive economic opportunity’ and still not think of it as a charity. That’s what’s been really frustrating for me.”

Despite her claims that she had several sponsors lined up for the program, the network still allegedly said no. Spain added that one sponsor was “willing to give ESPN a bunch of money,” with three other sponsors interested, but the Disney-owned network still rejected it.

She did, however, recognize ESPN’s work for women’s sports but said the network could still do “more.”

“ESPN does more than anybody else, both in terms of hours of women’s sports programming, rights packages, coverage, etc., and also they could do more. They could do differently. And I think to me, that’s the biggest missed opportunity.”

“What you need is an actual show where the people hosting it are tasked with watching it and know the landscape,” she added.

Spain has had several public run-ins with sports personalities, including calling Tampa Bay Rays baseball players “bigots” for not wearing gay pride patches on their uniforms.

“We have to stop tiptoeing around it because we’re trying to protect people who are trying to be bigoted from asking for them to be exempt from it, when the very people that they are bigoted against are suffering the consequences you say trying to be bigoted,” she said, per Fox News.

She has also chastised radio executives for not doing enough to reach out to female and gay audiences, saying that the audiences of “old white dudes” will die and leave no audience left.

“If you are so worried about scaring your existing fan base of old white dudes, remember that they’re going to get even older and die, and then there will be no one left,” Spain said in 2020. “Maybe you should reach out to the other parts of the population that are people of color, women, and ‘lgbtq+.'”

According to her website — which also labels her “unf***withable” — Spain is starting a new daily women’s sports podcast with iHeart Radio. It also said she will release a book in early 2025.

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