Jessica Mendoza Defies Boundaries and Critics
Jessica Mendoza Makes Baseball History, Prompting Sexist Backlash
On the whole, Twitter Loves ESPN Baseball Analyst Jessica Mendoza
Criticized for Being a 'Woman Announcer', Jessica Mendoza Shines Anyway
On Tuesday night, Jessica Mendoza was one of the analysts on ESPN’s broadcast team for the Wild Card game between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
It was a historical achievement that many lauded, and evidently one that many scorned.
If you were on social media Tuesday night, you saw the backlash from some who do not believe that a woman belongs anywhere near a microphone during a “man's game”. In their minds, only men or those who have played the game can comment on it.
Then, there was the backlash to the backlash, most of which seemed to be directed at Atlanta radio host, Mike Bell, for his “attempt” at mixing humor with opinion.
Amazing to see a guy cite Anchorman & NOT understand the scene he's referencing makes fun of bigoted men...not women http://t.co/QY6rDIrGLT— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 7, 2015
While many were caught up, I simply rejoiced.
Not over the fact that a woman was part of a national MLB playoff television broadcast for the first time ever, but the fact that the woman was a Latina.
“Embrace the fact that you are different…”
Those words were spoken by Jessica Mendoza in an ESPN article during Hispanic Heritage Month in 2011.
In the past, our culture often told us our role is at home. Family is everything.
Sports? For Latinas? No, that's not “our” culture.
For Latinas fortunate enough to grow up in a family that embraced sports like Mendoza's, it's a natural progression to play sports. She is a daughter of a baseball coach who went on to become a softball star at Stanford, where she earned her B.A. and her Master’s, and on the U.S. National Team.
“We'd go to the park and take batting practice every day," said Gil Mendoza in a 2008 interview.
“Baseball was all I knew until I crossed over (to softball),” said Mendoza to the NY Times. “It never seemed like a big deal.”
She understands the nuances of the game. The same preparation that made her one of the most feared hitters in softball history is the same one that she’s used throughout her broadcasting career.
That preparation that speaks to her culture. Hispanics are stereotypically known as hard workers. Many immigrants to the United States wind up taking jobs many Americans shy away from: domestic, agricultural, etc. They work hard to make ends meet – to provide a better life for their families.
That's the legacy Mendoza received from her first-generation Mexican-American father and the one she is passing on to the next generation of Latina girls.
She speaks with groups of them around the country and abroad, teaching them about sports and encouraging them to reach for their dreams. And, she fully understands what they are up against.
“I find that there are still a lot of traditional cultural roles for females - a lot of pressure for young girls to be around the family, help with siblings, help with meals, be kind of the rock of the household rather than doing extracurricular activities like sports,” Mendoza told ESPN in 2011.
Culture is important. Family is important. Neither has to be sacrificed while pursuing a career, be it in athletics or elsewhere. Jessica Mendoza has worked hard to be the best she can be, in softball and now in broadcasting.
She isn't letting anyone else define her, defying the stereotype of what a female sports broadcaster has been in the past. She has embraced the fact that she is different and is running with it.
For me, the best part is not because she's a woman. It's because she is Latina.