Maria Taylor’s All NBA ballot controversy highlights the place of women within sports media.
After firing back at former 670 The Score radio host, Daniel McNeil, over sexist remarks regarding her Monday Night Football attire, Maria Taylor is in yet another controversy — only this time with the NBA fan base.
Many fans were puzzled after finding out that Laker superstar Anthony Davis was left off of an All NBA voter’s ballot. Lakers writer Harrison Faigen posted the results on Twitter and noted Taylor was the voter who left Davis off all three ballots.
Taylor’s First Team All NBA ballot included Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Jokic, LeBron James and James Harden. Her Second Team All NBA Ballot included Jason Tatum, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard. Her Third Team All NBA ballot included Kris Middleton, Pascal Siakam, Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and Chris Paul.
These selections are debatable, as is any list that is composed based on opinions. Fans and sports personalities, however, did not see Taylor’s selection as debatable. Rather, individuals saw her selections as a warrant for social outrage.
Fox Sports Radio host Doug Gottlieb weighed in on the trending topic asking why Taylor deserved a vote in the first place.
“Why does Maria Taylor have a vote?” he tweeted. “Real question. She is a studio host/sideline reporter in her first year covering the NBA. She works a ton, not just on the league. No reason for her to have a vote.”
Gottlieb’s tweet led to an onslaught of misogyny allegations against the radio host, as well as support for Taylor. On the other hand, there were plenty of users who felt that sexism wasn’t present in this scenario.
Taylor, just as she did when McNiel said that her MNF attire was that of an Adult Film Awards host, fired back at Gottlieb.
“Because I played basketball…I cover the league,” Taylor tweeted. “And I deserve everything I’ve worked hard for.”
Fans, journalists and players showed their support for Taylor. Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell called men who threw shade at Taylor as “corny”. Taylor’s fellow NBA Countdown analysts showed their support as well, Jalen Rose bringing Taylor flowers before filming.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of fans — many of whom are men — who believe that Gottlieb’s comments were not sexist and that the situation isn’t that deep. And to their point, women are more visible than ever in sports media. Jemele Hill and Cari Champion host their own talk show where they are the analysts. Mina Kimes is an analyst for ESPN’s NFL programs. Dorris Burke is set to call the NBA Finals for the first time in her career.
With all this being said, Hill and Champion’s show is not broadcasted on a major sports network. Kimes is the first and only female analyst for ESPN’s NFL programs. And Burke is the first, and only woman, to ever call the NBA Finals.
Sports media remains a male-dominated profession, with over 90 percent of sports commentators, analysts and anchors being men. Women make up 40 percent of participants in sports, yet only receive four percent of sports media coverage.
While Taylor’s ballots and Gottlieb’s comments may be debatable, the place of women within sports media is not. Apparently, former Fox Sports personality Jason Whitlock doesn’t agree.
Whitlock, the former face of Fox Sport’s “Speak For Yourself,” wrote a piece noting that Taylor’s place in the media world is built on “beauty privilege.”
In his column for “Outkick,” Whitlock warns Taylor against “nailing herself to the same cross as Jemele Hill and Michelle Beadle.”
According to Whitlock, Hill and Beadle countermined their careers by embracing victimhood and wokeness. Whitlock isn’t a stranger to controversy, often using his column to rail against athlete activism, calling LeBron James a “bigot” and blaming the Milwaukee Bucks’ postseason shortcomings on “Black Lives Matter Disorder.”
Whitlock’s column not only discredit’s Taylor’s efforts as a professional but also belittles her achievements — her earned achievements.
He stated that Taylor got her ESPN position because she’s, “tall, attractive and quite personable on television.”
Whitlock’s commentary didn’t stop there. He also used his writing to belittle the work of ESPN’s Katie Nolan.
“Nolan’s beauty intoxicates TV executives, bloggers, and journalists, and it masks a lack of accomplishment, qualifications, and skill,” said Whitlock. “Beauty transformed Nolan from bartender to seven-figure personality, Emmy Award-winner and the darling of aroused bloggers and TV critics willing to ignore her pedestrian humor and inability to execute live television.”
“You’re *this close* to making an actual point about the expectation of women to not only be good at their job but also beautiful, but actual points don’t pay the bills huh. Keep this same energy next time I see you though,” Nolan tweeted. Nolan’s account is now private, so the tweet is no longer publicly accessible.
After Nolan’s clapback, Whitlock published a column about Nolan, calling her the “the most pampered and protected person in sports media.”
Taylor has now been in the middle of three controversies rooted in men questioning women’s place — all three within a seven-day span.
This is not the first time that a female media member’s gender has been weaponized by fans and writers.
Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks is constantly being linked to baseless rumors involving intimate relationships with current players. NFL reporter Alex Flanagan is berated by users weekly on social media following post-game interviews. Flanagan tweeted her support for Taylor, following Whitlock’s column — even writing about her experience with Whitlock in past years.
McNeil comparing Taylor to an Adult Film Awards host was unprofessional and disrespectful. Gottlieb’s questioning of Taylor’s place within the NBA voting, despite the debatability of her choices, was unprofessional and inappropriate. Whitlock’s column stating that Taylor, along with Nolan, are employed because of “beauty privilege,” is unprofessional, inappropriate and highly reckless.
Taylor, along with every other woman within sports media, deserves better.