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"Berry and Doyle: Trailblazing was tough all the way"

They found themselves under a microscope in breaking ground for black and women TV sportscasters

The Detroit News – Friday, June 3, 1983

By Mike Bass
News Staff Writer

    Anne Doyle remembers being forced to stand outside locker rooms while everyone else in her profession – from big stations, from college stations, “from every little Timbuktu station” – was allowed to do their jobs.

    Anne Doyle remembers starting at Channel 2 4½ years ago and listening to male callers, upset at the audacity of a female breaking up a male domain, say: “Who do you think you are?”

    Anne Doyle remembers what it was like to feel that every word she’d say over the air would affect the careers of future women sportscasters.

    Anne Doyle is a trend-setter, a rebel.  As the lone women sportscaster at a Big Three station here, she has helped open locker rooms that for eons had been for males only. She’s still fighting the Lions about theirs.  She finds satisfaction in her accomplishments, yet there is disappointment.  It bothers her that she has been so alone in her fight, that there are no other female sportscasters at the Big Three.  The fight is not over.

    Women sportscasters, the few that have surfaced, are not generally respected at this point – and for good reason.  Sure, Phyllis George is pleasurable to look at, but as a sportscaster, she makes a great beauty-pageant contestant.

    That’s the problem with most of the better-known females in the business.  They appear to know more about eye makeup than I-formations.  And it would seem to reinforce the stereotype competent women sportscasters try to overcome – society’s belief that they know nothing about sports.

    But Doyle sees the Phyllis Georges as beneficial in the long run.

    “I look at the Jayne Kennedys and the Phyllis Georges as part of exactly the same syndrome as when the Miss Americas did the news,” she said.  “There were no qualified people, so (stations) went out and hired them.  They were role models.  They planted the seed.  In 10 years, look at the quality of women newscasters.  That’s what’s happening in sports.

    “I’m in the next wave.  Five years from now, the Jayne Kennedys and the Phyllis Georges won’t have a chance.”
   
    There is the same talk concerning the opportunities for women sportscasters as there is concerning blacks – that being a female helps them get jobs because of quotas.
   
    “Anybody who says that does not know what they’re talking about,” Doyle said vehemently.  “There are a few examples.  But just plain look at the number of jobs, and you’ll see that white men are getting most of the jobs.

    “We’re still tokens.”

    Locally, it might be more difficult for more women to break through – or for Doyle to advance her career.  Detroit is a blue-collar city.  If it accepts you, it’ll adopt you.  Detroit doesn’t like change just for change’s sake.  It isn’t a place to develop new ideas, new fads, new values. That is left for Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco.

    And Detroiters take their sports very seriously.  They compare their sporting scene to anybody’s.  For women sportscasters to catch on here, as much as anywhere, it will be a struggle.

    The question is: Can Anne Doyle – or any woman – achieve the same distinction as male sportscasters in this town?

    “That’s a good question,” she said.  “I’ve been trying to figure that out myself.  It has nothing to do with my ability; it has everything to do with my sex.  I think I have as much talent and ability as all the other men in this town.

    “I think I can do it.”

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