'We Need To Talk': Sports News By Women, But Men Can Watch, Too This fall, CBS launched the first sports talk show with all female commentators. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to panelist Amy Trask about the show, and the evolving role of women in sports journalism.
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'We Need To Talk': Sports News By Women, But Men Can Watch, Too

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'We Need To Talk': Sports News By Women, But Men Can Watch, Too

'We Need To Talk': Sports News By Women, But Men Can Watch, Too

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

No slight to Mike Pesca but let's face it, men have long dominated sports and the conversation around sports. CBS is trying to rectify that.

This fall, the network launched the first nationally-televised, primetime, all-female sports show. The panelists are a rotating cast of CBS sports reporters, hosts, and prominent athletes. The very first show focused on domestic violence in the NFL and beyond. But despite the name, "We Need To Talk," the show is not intended to be just for women or just about women's issues.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "WE NEED TO TALK")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Do we need to get used to the kind of baseball that Amy likes?

AMY TRASK: I've always liked a pitcher's duel. And when it comes to football, I prefer a 7-3 game to a 37-34 game.

MARTIN: Amy Trask is one of the panelists on the new show. She was the CEO of the Oakland Raiders before she joined the CBS Sports Network and the cast of "We Need To Talk."

TRASK: It is a show presented by women, only women in front of the camera, only women behind the camera in terms of production and director. The director is a woman. The producers are women. But I will be quick to say, there's a tremendous, tremendous number of terrific men at CBS and CBS Sports Network that are involved, as well.

MARTIN: This might be obvious but can you explain why there was a need or a desire for a show like this, an appetite for a show?

TRASK: I'll be quick to say, this is not a show about women's sports. This is a show presented by women about sports, about sports in general, about the "Xs and Os," if you will, to use a football analogy, and also about the business of sports, the societal issues relating to sports, the cultural issues relating to sports, and scores, and who's starting and who's not.

MARTIN: I mean, this is a time, though, when there are more female sports anchors and reporters and commentators than ever before on the major sports networks. Why was there a decision that it would be - that there was a void that needed to be filled by putting women around the table to talk exclusively about sports?

TRASK: Won't it be a terrific point in time when we do stop saying, this is a woman talking about sports, and we simply say, oh, this is a sports show? I hope that this show is a big step in that direction.

MARTIN: But I mean, at the same time, Amy, the title of the show is "We Need To Talk," and there's something about that that strikes a very feminine cord. A show with a bunch of men sitting around talking about sports would not be called "We Need To Talk."

TRASK: OK. I guess I hadn't really thought through what one would title a show with men sitting around talking about sports. I know that when I tune into television programming, I'm not concerned with what a show is called as much as I am concerned with the quality of the show.

MARTIN: How are the conversations around a complicated social issue like the Ray Rice story different as a result of having a cast of exclusively women?

TRASK: My apologies for interrupting you. I got very excited by your question because the first show we did focused on domestic violence, the issues in the National Football League.

MARTIN: And I should also just remind people who don't know, a reminder that Ray Rice is the Baltimore Ravens player who was accused of physically assaulting his then-fiancee.

TRASK: We each brought to the discussion a very different perspective. There are two women on the show who shared with the audience that they were victims of domestic abuse. Others on the show talked about it from a - the standpoint of society as a whole and how do we look at our heroes and the teams we love when there are these issues involved.

I looked at the issue through the eyes of a business person who had been with a National Football League team for almost 30 years. What do you do as an organization? How do you do it? How do you balance doing what may be right from a societal standpoint and a locker room standpoint? We all addressed the issue from our own perspectives.

MARTIN: So those all sound like very interesting perspectives that you would want to hear and that you could hear as part of a mainstream conversation. Is there any part of you that is worried that a show like this puts the opinions of female commentators in a separate category, that this is a conversation that is just for women?

TRASK: No. I understand your question. It's a point that has been made to me by others. I don't view having an opportunity to participate in an exhilarating show like this as preclusive of any or all of us speaking on other platforms and being part of other shows, as well. I don't view it as an either/or. I view it as extra.

MARTIN: Amy Trask. She is a panelist for the CBS Sports show called "We Need To Talk." Amy, thanks so much for talking with us.

TRASK: My pleasure.

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