By: Alan Witt
Detroit – Anne Doyle had asked her final question when Kelly Tripucka shot back with one of his own.
“You’re not allowed in the locker room, are you?” asked the Detroit Pistons’ rookie. “If you aren’t, I’ll get you a pass.”
Doyle, a sportscaster at WJBK-Channel 2 in Southfield, smiled and went about her business – tracking down Pistons Coach Scotty Robertson for her next interview.
She is used to athletes’ come-ons and simply shrugs them off. Flirting comes with the territory.
Such is the life of a woman sportscaster in what traditionally has been a man’s profession. Some guys want dates with the pretty blue-eyed redhead. What they usually get is a sportscaster who means business when it comes to her job.
When a woman looks like Doyle, she has to expect a certain amount of crass remarks in a business overrun by male chauvinists. On the other hand, the guys had better not expect much response.
“I’m not here to hustle athletes,” she said. “I think a woman can control these situations by the vibrations she gives off.
“My whole career is at stake here, and there’s no athlete good-looking enough to merit destroying my career.
“Some of the guys kid me, asking me out for a drink, but I never take them seriously,” she said. “I have got to keep my professional credibility.”
Doyle knows the pitfalls of being the only woman on the job in a major media market like Detroit. It took awhile for many to accept her on the sports beat – some still haven’t – but the bad times are behind her.
“My first year here was horrible; very, very difficult,” she said. “No. 1, I had a lot to learn.
“Once I got into it, I wouldn’t go back to news, no way. Sports is fun, it’s more exciting, but I’ll tell you, it’s more difficult.
“There are people who do news who aren’t going to like that, but I’ve done both and they haven’t done sports,” she said. “You’re expected to know more than sports.
“People who are television newscasters are not expected to know the intricacies of what’s really going on in the mideast. Well people stop me on the street and expect me to know minute, historical facts about games and players from decades ago."
Doyle is also a strong advocate of sports opportunities for girls.
“Title IX has made a huge difference,” she said. “I hope the girls and young women who are playing sports today understand what an advantage they have over women of my age.”
Doyle’s high school in northern Indiana offered no sports for girls.
“We couldn’t even use the gym, that was used by the boys,” she said. “We had to use a cold church basement that was not even heated.
“We had to walk through the gym – the guys all whistled at us in our gym suits – through an annex, and into the church basement. We had nothing, and that was typical.
“That’s why I’m very supportive of women’s sports,” she said. “I can see the value of sports. I see what it does for boys and men, and the human universal lessons they get from sports.”
When Doyle was coming up, there were no role models for women in broadcasting. As a student announcer at the University of Michigan campus radio station, the only woman on the air anywhere was Barbara Walters of The Today Show.
“There was no one I could listen to to learn a style,” she said. “I had to listen to men, and you can’t really pattern yourself after a man.”
“If Barbara Walters hadn’t been there I probably wouldn’t have done it. She was the only thing to lead me to believe that I could do it.
“Today, I get letters from girls all the time who say they want to be sportscasters,” she said. “I fell I’m also a role model for little boys, too. They’re growing up with a whole new idea, changing their thinking on what people can do.”
Being in the spotlight has its drawbacks, especially in Detroit, where poison pens and loose mouths carry the impact of a Bubba Baker sack.
Doyle has been ranked by one Detroit columnist as the worst sportscaster in the Detroit area. The guy criticized her knowledge of sports first – and then started in with her bad points.
Doyle is made of tough stuff, however. She looks on it as free publicity and asks only that they spell her name right.
Doyle does have her supporters, the Pistons’ coach, for one.
“I get along with her fine,” said Scotty Robertson. “I think she’s a class person, very knowledgeable, works hard and she’s prepared.
“I think that certainly, she’s on of the top media people in Detroit.”
That’s why she’s welcome in the Detroit Pistons locker room.