WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Allie LaForce — co-host of CBS Sports Network’s “Lead Off!” with Doug Gottlieb — recently caught up with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, and spoke about navigating the treacherous waters of being taken seriously as a female reporter covering professional sports.
LaForce attributes winning Miss Teen USA in 2005 as having provided her with the proper training in others being critical of her looks. This, she explained, has given her a unique perspective of how to overcome the broad, superficial generalizations many sports fans typically apply to female broadcasters upon first glance.
“It was a really random time in my life where my mom wanted to me to try a pageant — to work on my public speaking skills, and work on my personality and be a little more outgoing,” La Force said on Friday. “And I actually won the pageant, which was completely unexpected. It was the only pageant I’ve ever done.”
“I would say I got it a lot worse being Miss Teen USA than I ever have in the sports world,” she said. “That trained me really well at a young age just to know that people mean well.”
“I have a brother who is a year younger than me, and that has been the most valuable piece of training I could have possibly had, because I see how he thinks; I see how he acts around women, and it’s taught me a lot just about how to handle those certain situations.”
“I think you do have to set people straight when they’re treating you, not like an intelligent person, but basically like a piece of booty, because that happens a lot,” LaForce said. “But when people just want to tell you that you’re pretty, there’s nothing wrong with that. I think that’s very sweet.”
During the NFL season, LaForce can also be found on sidelines reporting during games, from which she’s quickly grown a reputation of being refreshingly informative.
“I know that on the sideline, you’re kind of limited with the information that you can find, and it’s kind of just up to you to dig and find what you can find down there,” LaForce said. “But I also want to be presented to the audience in the right way, especially because I’m a woman and especially because I’m just entering the business, so I want what I say to be substantial or I’d rather not say it at all.”
Heading into male-dominated lockers rooms has long provided obstacles for female reporters in professional sports — both in being taken seriously as journalists, and with respect to avoiding harassment — but, as LaForce pointed out, that culture seems to finally be evolving.
“I think players know better by now,” she said, noting recent lawsuits from female reporters as a catalyst for change.
“I think [athletes] take you seriously and they treat you with respect,” she said. “And there’s always gonna be a couple here and there, but it’s pretty frowned upon now. It’s changed a lot in the last couple years.”
Listen to the full interview in the audio clip above.