Women have been covering sports for decades. Initially, they were hardly welcomed with open arms to this part of journalism. In many cases, they encountered overt discrimination and harassment. Now, a new public service announcement released on YouTube last week illustrates some of the daunting challenges women still face in this field.

Not Just Sports, which describes itself as “a podcast and Web community devoted to all the things the sports world loves away from the game,” created the PSA in which men sit face-to-face with two female sportswriters — Sarah Spain of ESPN and Julie DiCaro of The Cauldron — and read mean tweets to them. The tweets were not written by the men, but their discomfort in reading them directly to the women they’re attacking is clear. In some cases, they can barely get the words out.

The women, who had seen the tweets ahead of time, are able to laugh them off in some cases. But some of the tweets are so vicious, the pain they cause is visible in the video.

Among the milder tweets read in the PSA:

“I hope your dog gets his by a car.”

“One of the players should beat you to death with their hockey stick.”

“I hope your boyfriend beats you.”

And they get worse, far worse, from there.

Writing in Newsday, sports columnist Barbara Barker said:

Of course, it’s sad that the best way to end harassment of women is to show how it emotionally impacts men. Though technology has changed the vehicle of harassment over the course of my career — from letters, to emails, to reader comments so nasty at the end of stories that I have had to ask my mom not to read them — one thing has remained constant. The majority of them, if not all, seem to be written by men.

We applaud Not Just Sports for opening up the conversation on the harassment of female sports journalists. Sadly, this is something that has been going on for far too long. And it’s unlikely that it will end anytime soon. But shining a light on it is a step in the right direction.

To see more on this discussion search #MoreThanMean on Twitter.

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  • Diane May 3, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    I find it hard to imagine how women who work hard as sports journalists, have paid their dues and earned the right to be on the court and on the field with the teams, should be subjected to these vicious remarks anonymously on social media platforms. What is happening to civil discourse in this country? My daughter is a college athlete and a communications major. She has big plans to become sports journalist. I am so angry that she will have a hard time just because she is a woman in a field where certain kinds of men feel that “no girls are allowed”.