Erika

The Kentucky Kernel's sport editor, Erika Bonner, takes notes during a post-game press conference with John Calipari at Rupp Arena on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Have you seen Nike’s newest “Dream Crazier” campaign ad narrated by Serena Williams? It’s over a week old now and you probably have seen it, but if not, stop reading this (but only if you promise you’ll come back), look it up, and watch it.

And I don’t want you to just watch it. Think about it. Take it in. We’ll revisit it later.

Now, I’ve been in and around sports my entire life, which is why I’m in the career path I am now. I grew up watching Erin Andrews, Rachel Nichols, Doris Burke and so many other incredible women in the sports journalism industry that I always looked up to and always thought, “I want that to be me one day.” And it’s those women alone who have made it possible for me to say, “That CAN be me one day.”

In such a male-dominated industry, it can be hard as a female. It can be intimidating. It can be scary at times. It’s easy to get down on yourself and wonder if this is the right place for you to be.

But on the other hand, it’s incredibly rewarding. Rewarding in a sense that, no matter what anyone says, women can be just as (if not more) knowledgeable about sports as men, and to be able to prove that is a great feeling. It’s empowering. Sure, I am certain there will always be those people who will only pay attention to what I look like, what I’m wearing and what I sound like rather than my actual journalistic abilities. But at the end of the day, I think about the Laura Rutledges and the Maria Taylors of the world— great female sports journalists who get to share people’s stories and do what they love every day, and that’s really the only thing that matters.

I’ve been covering Kentucky athletics for over a year now, which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t very long (side note: still pinching myself about it). But in the short time that I’ve been able to call myself a sports journalist, I’ve been in the presence of some very talented female journalists. Looking around in any given press conference and seeing other female reporters is a refreshing feeling, not only because it’s comforting to see others like you when you’re the minority in the room, but because it’s a sign that things are changing. A few weeks ago, when Kentucky men’s basketball played LSU (sorry to all of BBN reading this, hate to bring that back up for you), the Kernel’s second reporter at the game, who is also female, and I were standing around waiting on player interviews to start when a female reporter from Louisiana approached us. She introduced herself and told us she was there all the way from Baton Rouge to cover LSU before she told us how cool it was to see two female reporters from the same news outlet covering men’s basketball, and how impressed she was by the presence of women in the room.

“Keep up the good work,” she said.

That’s what we need more of. It put things into perspective and made me think about how far society has come with the acceptance of women in sports journalism. We aren’t to the point yet of men and women blending together in the newsroom, but we’re getting there. There still aren’t as many women reporting sports as there should be, but again, we’re getting there.

You may be wondering why I prefaced this column by referencing the Nike ad, and the reason is because it’s going to tie this all together.

Whether it’s on a court, the track, the field or the newsroom, women are breaking barriers.

“If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic,” Williams says in the ad. “If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, we’re delusional. When we stand for something, we’re unhinged. When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us. And if we get angry, we’re hysterical, irrational, or just being crazy...

“So if they want to call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can do.”

Both female athletes and the females covering them are shattering cultural norms like nobody thought they would. We’re evolving from “I want that to be me one day,” to “That CAN be me one day,” to finally, “That IS me.”

So ladies, let’s show everyone how crazy we really are.