Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Arts and Entertainment

ESPN Documentary Series Turns Spotlight on Women in Sports

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
Your donation today keeps LAist independent, ready to meet the needs of our city, and paywall free. Thank you for your partnership, we can't do this without you.

We happened to catch a sneak peek of the documentary Let Them Wear Towels, part of the ESPN Films' and espnW's 9 for IX series, and while we generally leave the sports stories to our illustrious sports editor Jimmy Bramlett, we had to make a note of this TV film, debuting tonight on ESPN. Co-directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, Let Them Wear Towels is a fascinating look at the history of women in sports journalism and, basically, the bullsh*t that many pioneering reporters had to wade through in order to get their stories—and their jobs done—in a male-dominated field.

While the film is being billed as focusing on the case of Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson, who was sexually harassed in a locker room by a group of New England Patriots in 1990, and her eventual lawsuit against the team, Let Them Wear Towels is so much more. We get to meet the reporters who first covered sports for major teams and major newspapers around the country, including Betty Cuniberti, the first woman in the Dodgers’ press box as a reporter for the San Bernardino Sun-Telegram; Lesley Visser, first woman NFL beat reporter for the Boston Globe; and Melissa Ludtke of Sports Illustrated, who successfully challenged Major League Baseball after she was barred from the New York Yankees’ locker room during the 1977 World Series.

The film is the third to air in the Nine for IX series, inspired by last year’s 40th anniversary of Title IX, part of which provides equal opportunity in athletics. The nine documentaries in the series—executive produced by Robin Roberts and Jane Rosenthal—focuses on women in sports and are all directed by either directed by Oscar-nominated, Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning female filmmakers.

Support for LAist comes from

We can’t wait to catch the remaining films in the series, which broadcasts at 8 pm on Tuesdays in July and August on ESPN:

July 16 (tonight): Let Them Wear Towels
July 23: No Limits - about free diver Audrey Mestre
July 30: Swoopes - about the career of Sheryl Swoopes aka “the female Michael Jordan”
Aug. 6: The Diplomat - about skater Katarina Witt, one of East Germany's most famous athletes
Aug. 13: Runner - on American distance runner Mary Decker
Aug. 20: The ‘99ers - on the U.S. Women’s 1999 soccer team
Aug. 27: Branded - explores the double-standard placed on female athletes to good on the field...and sexy off of it.