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Doris Burke: Game Changers Wear Lipstick Too

How an Ideal Model Shapes the Future for Women in Sports


By Tai Sanders



Burke reports from the sidelines of the game.

I always believed that competitiveness is what I genuinely liked about sports. A concept that calls for using human interaction to achieve a greater goal or purpose, this was what I wanted to see. However, it wasn’t until later that I realized that entertainment and production are the sole reason that I am able to delve deeper into the game. Media interactions and coverage carry the sole purpose for sensational annual events like the NBA playoffs. 1974 was the first time a female sideline reporter covered a game. Today, nearly 37% of women fill positions within the sports media realm and only 22% of women make up for ESPN NBA commentators. One of these women is Doris Burke. Some may know her as a lead sideline reporter for the NBA playoffs, or as a pioneer of basketball, as she was inducted into the New England Hall of Fame as the first-ever point guard for Providence College. But personally, I think of her as a game changer, one who is consistent in their work, uses their reputable nature to conduct a series of great interaction/business and builds a strong platform that attributes to breaking barriers.


Longevity


Burke interviews the late Kobe Bryant after a game.

The youngest of eight children, Burke spent most of her time playing basketball as a young girl. The New Jersey native started off leading in assists in the Big East Conference, igniting the fire for her respectable repertoire and blooming career. After graduating college in 1987, she initially became assistant coach at Providence College and then began radio coverage for Providence College Women’s Basketball. From there she would go on to work for MSG Networks, CBS Women’s College Basketball and Atlantic-10 Men’s basketball Network throughout the 90s. After spending a decade working in sports media, Burke would get her first big break as an NBA analyst in 2003. Her dedication to her craft shows that she truly enjoys both the sport and the reporting.


A strong reputation

The trust that lies in sports media has been diminished over the years. Those who are asked questions during sideline coverage, post-game interviews and press conferences are usually anxious to get out of the interrogation room, ready to bite back at journalists who dare to ask questions dipped in falsified absurdity for a story. In this business, it is common knowledge that honesty and trustworthiness will improve relationships between the media and the players. Burke is one of few who are respected even by the harshest critics in the industry. This includes Gregg Popovich who despises talking to the media. Burke’s reputation has led people of status to concede to her decorum and long-standing position within her field, gaining her early access to exclusives and feature stories.


Breaking barriers

As a prominent woman in sports, Burke has done her fair share of work for both Men and Women’s Basketball and has gracefully advocated for more women in sports. When talking about what the future holds, Burke is interested in the inclusion of women in roles they are normally excluded from. It is not easy to break the glass ceiling, but it does build character for those in pursuit. In 2016, Burke was promoted to a full-time position in sideline coverage. Some advice Burke has shed is for young girls to practice is narrowing their focus as a way to achieve their personal goals.


As a young professional in the field of journalism, Burke is a perfect example of her I want to work in my profession. Her dignity and grace in conjunction with hard work and dedication have helped her to excel in her career. As I move forward, I hope to take these traits with me so that I may become the best journalist that I can be.


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About the Author: Tai Sanders is a student at the University of North Texas studying public relations in the Mayborn School of Journalism and is expected to graduate May of 2021.









Citations:

https://journalism.unt.edu https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/magazine/doris-burke-wants-more-women-in-sports-media.html

https://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170210/doris-burke-jersey-girl-rising-to-rafters-at-providence-college

https://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/05/doris-burke-interview-follow-up-remark-left-gregg-popovich-spurswarriors-game-2-video-stunned-nba https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ESPN_NBA_commentators https://www.si.com/nba/2020/09/19/doris-burke-interview-women-in-nba

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