Beth Mowins called Monday Night Football last night, and for women across the country, it went a long way in validating our fandom.
Mowins cut her teeth calling college football games and boasts a level of insight to which we all should aspire -- man or woman. Nothing was handed to her, and, like Jessica Mendoza on the baseball side, she's earned her spot at the big-boy table.
We all knew Mowins was making history last night, becoming the first female regular-season play-by-play announcer in 30-ish years. But what I couldn't anticipate was the visceral feeling of hearing someone who sounded like me occupying the booth.
As both a fan and a sports professional who happens to be a woman, I'm constantly asked my opinion on a game, player, rule, issue -- you name it. And as a woman, upon giving my opinion, I'm immediately questioned, challenged, tested, doubted -- you name it.
Part of the reason for that is that it's still rare to hear a woman's voice in an elevated position in the sports sphere. Simply stated, men aren't used to sharing sports with women. "Saturdays are for the boys," and we're, at best, relegated to the sidelines, as cheerleaders or sideline reporters. Even the most supposedly well-meaning men will tell me, as they did last night, "I think it's so great to hear a girl [sic] talk sports like this."
Well, get used to it. Every day is for all of us -- and with football, at any given time, that could mean Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Thursday or Friday. If the big business of sports wants sports to be ubiquitous, then perhaps that means actively embracing and including those of us whom have been ignored for so long.
Mowins still faced vitriol on social media, but whether you were rooting for the Broncos or the Chargers, her presence in the booth felt like a win. When you've been talking sports all your life, when this thing that you love so much has never fully embraced you, to hear someone in a role to which you and future generations might aspire -- well, that's a game-changer, ladies.
Women don't exist in a monolith. We don't share the exact same experiences or opinions, and not all of us love sports. (The same thing can be said about men.) Yet the range of our experience has yet to be properly represented in popular media, sports media paramount among them. To have Mowins call Monday Night Football brought us one step closer to seeing ourselves in another area from which we've been historically shuttered.
If even the smallest interactions in our daily lives alter because of this, that's meaningful. If the next time we're at a bar making the most casual comment about Von Miller, and heads don't turn because it came from a woman, that's progress. The bar is low, yet women like Beth Mowins continue to elevate it.
The fact that representation matters isn't lost on everyone. Just look at these inspiring posts by women who, as I did, saw themselves in her:
earnest tweet alert: been watching the NFL since I was a little girl, and seeing @bethmowins up there makes my heart sing— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) September 12, 2017
Mowins is just doing her job. She doesn't need to be a symbol or a harbinger for progress. But if something as seemingly unassuming as a woman calling a nationally televised NFL game can at once anger and inspire at the level it did last night, she's absolutely doing something right.