You might know Doris Burke as a sideline reporter at NBA games, but in September of 2017, she became the NBA’s first full-time, female game analyst. She will take on this role during regular season NBA telecasts, as well as the NBA playoffs, and will still hold her job as a sideline reporter.
You know when Drake wears a shirt with your face on it coupled with the words “woman crush everyday,” that you are no longer a regular 52-year-old mom of two. Making history by landing the position she currently holds was just an added bonus! In all seriousness, Burke is making waves, but didn’t end up where she is without some hands-on experience.
Burke’s love for basketball sparked early on in her life, as early as seven years old. She went on to be a point-guard for her high school basketball team, and played this same position in college for the Providence Friars women’s basketball team.
She always knew she wanted to coach, and pursued that until she was married with children. She then made a decision that would alter the course of her career path when she decided to start airing women’s basketball games on the radio. She loved coaching, but wanted to move on, and felt that the timing was right for her to do so.
When she first began reporting on television, she thought that she had to dress a certain way to be taken seriously as a woman in her field. She masked her femininity with pant suits, blazers, and certain hairstyles that made her feel as if she “projected a certain air.” When she wasn’t booking the types of assignments she anticipated, her producer at ESPN made her realize the harrowing truth: reporting is still a visual medium.
Softening her look and adding skirts to her wardrobe just to climb in her field went against everything Burke stood for, but she accepted it.
“The physical appearance and natural aging of men doing this job don’t matter. [Female] co-hosts stay in the same demographic, [even as the male host ages]. So he gets older, but his sidekick does not? Right. Frankly, that’s bullsh*t. That’s absolute bullsh*t,” she says. “We still have a long way to go.”
It goes without saying that looks definitely are not the reason why Burke is so successful in what she does. She understands the game so well and can relate to players because she has played the game herself. This has earned her respect from viewers, coaches, and players.
Burke credits the NBA and ESPN for being inclusive environments that both supported her growth and promoted her success, and believes that they show this support to all women in the field.
“They are willing to put people like me in a position to do this. It’s pretty cool to have a greater role and the chance to continue to cover a sport that I love with the best players and coaches in the world.”
Burke’s new job as basketball’s first female game analyst is opening the door for women to be respected in sports. For far too long it has been led by men, and one step at a time, women are becoming an integral part of the sports industry.
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