Home > Features >

IPL: The curse of the female reporter

IPL: The curse of the female reporter

Karishma Kotak – From reality TV show contestant to cricket presenter. Photo courtesy: DNA.

By Zenia D’Cunha

The sixth edition of the unprecedentedly popular Indian Premier League (IPL) is being watched and followed by millions. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny you’re checking on the IPL like a mad ex checking the Facebook status of his former lover.

And if there is IPL, there will be Extraaa Innings on Sony Max, and if there is Extraaa Innings on Sony Max, there will be gorgeous women in the studio and stadium, dressed to the nines, armed with microphones, asking random and often clueless, questions to cricketers with no apparent purpose or meaning.

Much has been said about the two female reporters on Extraaa Innings in IPL 2013: Karishma Kotak, a contestant on the reality TV show Bigg Boss 6, and former Miss India International Rochelle Maria Rao, winner of a beauty pageant known for its imprudence.

I am slightly envious of the fact that these ladies get the opportunity to roam around stadiums, talking to cricketers, but my concern is with the thinking behind the recruitment of these ladies and what they stand for — namely that female sport reporters do not and are not supposed to understand sport; they are merely supposed to be beautiful showpieces to decorate the screen for the watching audience, which, against all evidence, is presumed to only be made up of men.

This concept is not new, nor is it restricted to the male psyche. It appears to be a universally established fact that physically attractive ladies with little or no knowledge about the game make acceptable sport presenters. And this is what irks the most. 
 
It is not a mindset so much as an unsaid mantra, and I have personally experienced such incidents in my short stint in this field. In my final year of journalism studies I told one of my professors — a senior reporter with a leading news channel — that I was interested in pursuing sport journalism, and his immediate response was: “Oh you’ll do well in the sports beat. Your biggest advantage is that you are a woman.” You just can’t buy that sort of encouragement.

Recently, I did an interview with Rohit Sharma and was delighted when he spoke pleasantly, politely and in depth. I was later told that this was due to the fact that I’m a woman and that he tends to be curt with male reporters. I have worked with Ravi Shastri for some time, and he treats me as more of an equal than he does my male colleagues.

What these incidents highlight is that yes, being a lady does have its perks in the field of sports reporting, and honestly, I am quite flattered to be treated like one in whatever interactions I have had with cricketers so far. But there is a huge, wide, deep chasm in being a lady sports reporter and being a doe-eyed, brainless reporter.

If Sony Max and Extraaa Innings want glamorously dressed women in their show to attract eyeballs, they can easily get intelligent female presenters, such as former cricketers Isa Guha, Anjum Chopra, Melanie Jones and Lisa Sthalekar. They’re really not that hard to find and, as well as being women, they also benefit from not being Ramiz Raja.

Witness this video of Karishma Kotak: is there any sadder sight in cricket than seeing Kapil Dev clapping along merrily to this sham?

As Neeraj Vyas, business head of SET Max said: “The focus is on fun and entertainment and not on serious cricket. The girls are not chosen for their knowledge of cricket. Give them some time, they will get better. The girls have to change every year to get in younger and fresher faces.”

Encouraging words for any budding young female journalist who thinks actually learning about their chosen field might be more important than dousing oneself in Fair & Lovely from a young age.
 
If the girls are “not chosen for their knowledge of cricket” then on what basis are they chosen? On how presentable they look against the green backdrop of a stadium or on how well they can hold a mike or how tight can their dress get without splitting?

Let’s have a look at some of the inanely absurd things Miss Kotak and Miss Rao have uttered on camera while talking to cricketers:

  • Last year, Dale Steyn was asked: “How difficult is it to spin the ball in Indian conditions?”

  • Indian racing driver Karun Chandhok was asked about the noise levels at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

IPL: The curse of the female reporter

  • Allan Donald, sitting in the Pune Warriors India dug-out in their blue colors, was referred as the Sunrisers Hyderabad coach.

My point here is simple: I am a lady who not only follows cricket, but aims to work in the field of sports journalism. And instances such as these IPL hosts are detrimental to my prospects. Mr. Vyas clearly mentioned that they need glam models with no knowledge of cricket for the entertainment factor. But in the process he is negatively affecting the image of women sports presenters. 

They could have used Indian female cricketers and subtly promoted them and their game. There is no dearth of cricket-playing or following women in India. Hell, many of them are nice to look at as well if Preity Zinta, bouncing up and down, isn’t enough for you. If the aim is to have beautiful, eye-pleasing women, then it can be achieved without stereotyping sports-loving women and insulting the intelligence of the wider cricket-watching population.

Next time you’re watching the IPL, just ask yourself this question: Am I honestly happy I’m listening to Danny Morrison rather than Mithali Raj?

(Zenia D’Cunha is an aspiring sports journalist. Her Twitter handle is zeniadcunha and she blogs at http://sportilligent.blogspot.cz/. The above article is reproduced with permission from AlternativeCricket.com, which is currently developing a scholarship for young Afghan cricketers. You can follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/alternativecricket) and Twitter (twitter.com/altcricket)

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 6, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Galle

India tour of England 2014

Aug 7, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Manchester

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 9, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Harare

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 14, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

India tour of England 2014

Aug 15, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at London

More

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014  at Southampton

England won by 266 runs

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 100 runs

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014  at Colombo

Match drawn

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 22, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 2 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 20, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 8 wkts

Photos

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test

Videos

Highlights of Phil Hughes' double ton

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test at Southampton: Highlights

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test at Southampton: Reasons for India’s heavy defeat

10 little known facts about Jacques Kallis

Moeen Ali spins India into trouble: Will he stun them again on Day 5 at Southampton?

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: How an Indian fan remembers the South African legend

England England vs India England vs India 2014 Ian Bell India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Moeen Ali South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test at Southampton: Sunil Gavaskar slams India’s abject surrender

Chris Gayle’s quick-fire innings takes Jamaica Tallawahs to victory over Antigua Hawksbills in CPL 2014

Jacques Kallis: I would love to play another season in IPL

Ajinkya Rahane, Moeen Ali make rapid strikes in ICC Test rankings

Revealed: How Sachin Tendulkar was nominated for Bharat Ratna in matter of just 5 hours!

India vs England 2014, 4th Test at Old Trafford: Ajinkya Rahane needs to play decisive role

Faisal Iqbal: Political interference has caused harm to my international career

Ray Markham — The Press Box Scorer who made it from the Loft to Lord’s

10 little-known facts about Sir Frank Worrell

Statistical analysis of Jacques Kallis’s ODI career

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

658 Posts | 6 Fans

Sachin Tendulkar's nine dismissals against James Anderson

Prevent Diabetes Tip – get regular health check-ups

Ajinkya Rahane, Moeen Ali make rapid strikes in ICC Test rankings

India vs England 2014, 4th Test at Old Trafford: Ajinkya Rahane needs to play decisive role

Samsung misses the biggest tectonic shift in smartphones after the iPhone

Kick box office collection: Salman Khan’s film set to enter the Rs 200 crore club?

Nimrat Kaur and Art Malik to star in Homeland!

GOQii smartband goes on sale in India, prices start at Rs 6,999 for a six month plan

Rafael to miss rest of Man Utd’s tour of the USA with groin injury

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here