By Matt Ouellet
Twenty-three students from across FCAD made history Friday night with the first ever Canadian live sports broadcast to feature a crew staffed only by women.
Dubbed “The Takeover,” the crew broadcasted the Ryerson women’s hockey team’s game against Windsor live on Rogers TV and the OUA TV portal from the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
The idea was developed by fourth-year media production student Leandra Vermeulen, who acted as the lead for the broadcast. Vermeulen got the idea after working on a CBC production crew during the summer Pan Am Games and noticing a lack of female presence producing the televised events.
“If you don’t see yourself represented [on TV] it makes you a bit nervous,” said Vermeulen. “And the few women who are represented in sports broadcasting are often criticized for their body and how they look. I feel it’s intimidating when I walk onto a truck and I know I’m in a zone of a lot of judgement.”
While there are more women than men across Ryerson’s three undergraduate Radio and Television Arts programs, Vermeulen didn’t see that reflected in the workforce when she worked on CBC’s coverage of past summer’s Pan Am Games. Of the 45 camera operators she worked with, just one was a woman. Vermeulen developed the idea of an all-female crew to feature positive representations of women in sports broadcasting.
The commentating team of Sarah Jenkins and Savanna Prokopetz acknowledged the importance of the event during the opening moments of the broadcast as every member of the crew was showcased.
“We are the changing face of the industry. And it’s absolutely unreal to know that we are going to help bring gender equality to the sport industry,” Prokopetz said.
For rink-level reporter Nikki Jeffrey, the event was especially important.
“When I first came to Ryerson, I didn’t know any other girls who liked sports. I think it’s a fantastic idea to have all these girls come out and work. I feel happy.”
While the event certainly was historic and important, there was nothing that happened during the broadcast to suggest an all-female crew would be different from any other crew. It seemed as if there were no standout moments for a crew of people performing their usual jobs, which it seems, is exactly what Vermeulen was hoping for.
“It would be nice for people to see this as a normal thing; obviously it’s not so far, so that’s why we’re doing it,” she said. “I hope they’ll do it again, but I’ll be graduated.”