Home Broadcasting The valley is home to sports broadcasters Ann Meyers Drysdale, Cindy Brunson

The valley is home to sports broadcasters Ann Meyers Drysdale, Cindy Brunson

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Ann Meyers Drysdale was a WNBA Game 1 presenter in 1997 and also worked on the NBA Game 1 starring two female analysts. (Photo by Kevin Hurley / Cronkite News)

Kate Scott paid her dues at the company, including working at Pac-12 Networks, before landing a job as the voice of the Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Brian Murphy / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Manage the moment.

That was the thought running through Lisa Byington’s mind as she prepared to call up the NCAA Division I basketball tournament for Turner Sports last March.

And manage, she did.

Byington made history as the first woman to call a March Madness match – a feat that might have seemed improbable just a decade ago – and she handled the moment that No. 14 seed Abilene Christian , celebrated a stunning victory over third-seeded Texas. something that few broadcasters are ready to do: she shut herself up.

“I literally walked away from the broadcast table,” Byington said. “We call it ‘the layout’ and it literally means saying nothing, because the pictures say it all. “

Months later, Byington broke another barrier when the Milwaukee Bucks named her the first full-time female voice on television for a men’s professional sports team.

Shortly after, presenter Kate Scott was named lead announcer for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The pair walked through a glass ceiling that women have struggled with for years while trying to advance in sports broadcasting. And no one watched with more interest than Ann Meyers Drysdale, who herself smashed some glass ceilings.

Meyers Drysdale was the first woman to sign a contract with a National Basketball Association team, the Indiana Pacers. (Photo courtesy of Indiana Pacers)

Meyers Drysdale was the first woman to receive a track and field scholarship to play basketball at UCLA in 1974, just two years after Title IX was ratified in 1972. The Indiana Pacers signed her to a camp contract. ‘drive for $ 50,000 in 1979 and gave it a try, another first.

And after her playing career, Meyers Drysdale also became a pioneer in the broadcast booth.

She has been an analyst on men’s and women’s basketball shows at the Olympics, WNBA, NBA and NCAA for ESPN and NBC since the 1970s. Now, she is vice president and general analyst for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury.

Broadcasters such as Meyers Drysdale, Scott and Byington are used to the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry.

For Byington, it was no different with the Bucks.

When interviewing for the position, Byington made sure to refer an interview question to the organization. They asked her how she would handle the moment of being the first woman to be the voice of an NBA team.

“I kind of gave that back to them. And I said, ‘How are you going to handle this? It’s new for you, for Milwaukee, for the NBA. It’s new to everyone except the person you’re asking how you’re going to handle it, ”Byington said.

Meyers Drysdale’s biography is packed with accomplishments that paved the way for talented broadcasters like Byington. But Meyers Drysdale is quick to credit the others who came before her as well as those with whom she worked.

“I worked with Robin Roberts and Michele Tafoya,” Meyers Drysdale said. “I worked with Pam Ward. Beth Mowins played soccer as did Ward. We have a lot of play-by-play women who are qualified. ”

Meyers Drysdale was a WNBA First Game Broadcaster in 1997 alongside Hannah Storm. She also appeared in the NBA opener with two analysts alongside Stephanie Ready.

She always managed the moment – especially those who shattered those glass ceilings.

Meyers Drysdale never planned to carve a legacy in broadcasting, but longtime voice and former SportsCenter presenter Cindy Brunson is feeling the impact Meyers Drysdale has had on her every day.

She showed Brunson what was possible.

“She’s like Billie Jean King in that regard. She doesn’t want the road with her at the end, ”Brunson said. “She wants this to continue for everyone.”

Cindy Brunson (left) interviewed the Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings for their open play-by-play positions. (Photo courtesy of Fox Sports Arizona)

Brunson lives in Arizona with her husband Steve Berthiaume, who is the television broadcaster for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Brunson works as a play-by-play announcer and secondary reporter for the Pac-12 networks and the WNBA covering women’s and men’s basketball, college football and softball.

During the NBA offseason, she interviewed the Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings for their open play-by-play positions.

Like Byington, Brunson returned a question about the organization when she interviewed.

“Some of the Sixers and Kings were like, ‘Well how do you think you’re going to handle this,’ Brunson said.“ (I said) ‘I believe in what I’ve got for myself. How are you going to handle it? Because you are going to have the flashback. I’ve been told my whole life I can’t. And I keep pushing and succeeding.

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Brunson did not receive an offer for the positions, but she opened the eyes of team leaders to a much larger conversation about the representation of women in a male-dominated industry – a conversation that many people wonder why it took until 2021 for women like Byington and Scott to get their break.

Brunson has made it clear that while she may not be one of the first women to break the barrier, she won’t be the last either.

“When I interviewed the Sixers I said, ‘Look, it’s not just me in the car,’” Brunson said. “(I said) ‘Everyone in the backseat looks like me, and they’re younger than me. And I’m driving them down the road.

Byington has a simple goal for future generations in the play by play space.

“I would say that I hope one day a female voice on a men’s game becomes background noise,” Byington said.

Right now, Byington and Scott are more than background noise as they are the first women in the play-by-play space for major men’s professional sports. But Drysdale knows from experience that it’s not enough to make it happen.

“We don’t just have to be thankful for being at the table, we have to own the table as well,” said Drysdale. “We need to make sure we’re part of the conversation and that our voice matters. ”