Over the weekend , our good friends gave us the news that their daughter , Aditi Kinkhabwala, had just changed jobs . They told me that she had left her job as a reporter with the Wall Street Journal to join the NFL Network. We congratulated them on Aditi’s move to TV and told them how delighted we were . The new job entails preparing and delivering on-air reports about happenings around the NFL and , contrary to what I would have thought , it is a year round job. Even in the off-season , the football hungry public demands its football news :drafts , trades , projections for the upcoming season and breaking news .(During the season , of course , coverage expands exponentially). In less than two weeks on the job , Aditi has already covered the Junior Seau suicide and Robert Griffin III’s impact on the Washington Redskins. She has a winning personality , has good screen presence , works hard and her previous experience as a sports reporter at the Bergen Record and sportsillustrated.com will stand her in good stead.
Afterwards , I reflected how things have changed since the early days of female sports reporters. While some women did report on sports fifty years ago , their numbers were small and most of them wrote for newspapers . They broke into TV reporting much later and the NFL, in particular, proved a very difficult nut to crack . Women covered basketball , tennis and other sports before they covered the NFL. Phyllis George ( Miss America 1971) was probably the first to be part of an NFL broadcast back in 1974 and she was followed by Jayne Kennedy but both were ” eye candy” and had little journalistic experience . The first “serious ” woman sports reporter on national TV was probably either Leslie Visser or Hannah Storm , both of whom came on in the eighties. I well remember the sneering remarks directed at them by male viewers who had difficulty accepting that a woman could talk knowledgeably about a ” real man’s game ‘. Those days are long gone now and women TV sports reporters are no longer a rarity. Quite the opposite , and Aditi will have plenty of company. She is the first of Indian – American descent though ; not all of us become doctors or IT specialists !
Her joining the NFL network also brought home to me how much the print media has declined in importance. In fact , she is the second one ,that we know of , to quit the Wall Street Journal ; another friend’s daughter left to do her MBA at Columbia University and now works in the finance industry. At one time , being a reporter at the Wall Street Journal ( or the New York Times ) had a certain prestige . While the cachet still remains , it is much reduced ; newspapers face an uncertain future because the American public has become accustomed to getting its news for free , either from TV or the internet. I have heard for years that newspapers are fast becoming obsolete and that prediction seems to be true.
It was also a reminder of how big NFL football has become in America . Nowadays, Superbowl Sunday is as big a social event as Thanksgiving dinner or the Fourth of July picnic.