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Breaking Barriers: Women Leading the NFL Networks

Being a woman in sports is a daunting task. No matter their job, women must work twice as hard as men who hold the same position. Though a predominantly female role, women who work as sideline reporters often face ridicule for being perceived as uneducated in the knowledge of sports—particularly a male-dominated sport like football. There are many exemplary female sideline reporters, but here are a few who have made a huge impact on all women in this industry.

Erin Andrews

Photo courtesy of @erinandrews/Instagram

Erin Andrews has become one of the most recognizable faces on the NFL sidelines. As a little girl, she always wanted to have a career in sports. With her father being an Emmy-winning television journalist, she had an early start in the industry, and the fire within stayed lit. Andrews has covered numerous sports but has been involved in football with Fox Sports since 2012. Most recently, she interviewed Aaron Rodgers discussing what the future holds for him with the New York Jets. When the teaser was dropped for this meeting, fans of both figures anxiously awaited the full release. She asks all the right questions, allowing Rodgers to truly express his thoughts and feelings for the season. Outside of commentating on the field, she has a clothing line called WEAR that gives women a fashionable feel while still repping their team. The line, which started in 2019, carries clothing for the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, and even some NCAA schools. From her advocacy for the female fan to her engaging interviews, Andrews has made quite the name for herself in the world of sports—deservingly so.

Charissa Thompson

Photo courtesy of @charissajthompson/Instagram

Working on a multiplicity of NFL shows, Charissa Thompson boasts versatility between being a host as well as a reporter. She and Andrews host a podcast titled Calm Down with Erin and Charissa which includes all components of being a female in sports. Thompson is a true representative of hard work, starting in the Fox Sports Human Resources Department and working her way up to being a regular host on Fox NFL Kickoff. She recalls applying for the HR position solely to get her foot in the door in terms of sports and media. Thompson has always had to work with strategy and intention, and that’s clear in her interviews: She isn’t just asking questions, but rather leading the conversation. Charissa Thompson is a prime example of how having a strong work ethic, an engaging presence, and a wide range of knowledge can take a woman in this industry to unimaginable heights.

Lindsay Czarniak

Photo courtesy of @lindsaycz/Instagram

Lindsey Czarniak became engrossed in sports at a young age, with her father being a sports editor and reporter. Czarniak has held positions at NBC, ESPN, and Fox, including a segment in 2021 dedicated solely to female Olympians. On Her Turf, which Czarniak co-hosted with Lolo Jones and MJ Acosta-Ruiz, recognized the female athletes and addressed the challenges that come along with the lifestyle of sports. The program covered issues ranging from stereotypes against black female athletes to banning protest demonstrations. Czarniak is all about allowing women in sports to speak freely on different platforms without fear of backlash. In addition, Lindsay Czarniak formerly hosted a podcast titled The Artist and the Athlete, combining a unique passion for sports and music. A huge factor in her success is taking more unconventional approaches, like discussing taboo subjects regarding sports and merging pop culture worlds among musicians and athletes. Czarniak, though not as active in reporting as she once was, proves to remain a respected figure in the industry.

Being a woman in sports isn’t always easy. Criticism is around every corner, even for these women who have made it to the highest level possible. Having a role model can make even the greatest challenge seem attainable, and that’s what these ladies are doing for all girls in the sports industry.

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