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)

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Southampton

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

More

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 100 runs

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

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 18, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 6 wkts

India tour of England 2014

Jul 17, 2014  at London

India won by 95 runs

Photos

Gallery: India vs England 2nd Test at Lord's

Videos

Alastair Cook jokes about his bowling

10 things you need to know about Zaheer Abbas

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2nd Test at Colombo: Pride at stake for high-flying hosts

Mahela Jayawardene at SSC: A tale of 11 tons

Please help Graeme Pollock, cricket boards and franchises of the world

Cricket at Commonwealth Games and Olympics: Why not?

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe 2014 England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Ishant Sharma South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014 Zimbabwe vs Afghanistan 2014

Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe by 100 runs level series 2-2 at Bulawayo

Mahela Jayawardene’s century at Colombo against South Africa lauded by Kumar Sangakkara, Tom Moody

Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka steps down

Mahela Jayawardene ton takes Sri Lanka to 305/5 on Day 1 of 2nd Test against Sri Lanka

Virat Kohli’s childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma advises him not to play square of wicket

10 things you need to know about Zaheer Abbas

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2nd Test at Colombo: Pride at stake for high-flying hosts

Mahela Jayawardene at SSC: A tale of 11 tons

Please help Graeme Pollock, cricket boards and franchises of the world

Cricket at Commonwealth Games and Olympics: Why not?

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

Brazil vs Netherlands, 3rd place Fifa World Cup 2014 match Video Highlights

Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka steps down

R Madhavan undergoes dental transformation for Laal

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2nd Test at Colombo

Decision on poll alliance with JD(U) after talks: Lalu Prasad Yadav

Google street view of galaxies a reality

Aamir Khan to play pehlwan onscreen?

Taqa India Power Ventures pullout won’t affect debt-reducing efforts: Jaypee Group

Mobile services market in India to be $19.2 billion in 2014: Gartner

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here