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Volume 23 No. 28
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It’s a well-deserved third year in the booth for Kremer, Storm

They’re back. On Thursday, when Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm call the Buccaneers-Bears game for Amazon Prime Video, it will mark the start of their third season as broadcast partners. That’s a big deal, a really big deal, even if three seasons doesn’t have the distinctive ring of five or 10 or 15 years. For women in sports, getting renewed, finding longer-term opportunities to grow and develop and sharpen skills, can be as challenging as breaking barriers.

“The most important thing is that we’re doing this for a third season,” said Storm. “We did not do this for a game for headlines. We didn’t do it for a season for Amazon to check off some kind of box. What is it going to take to change the narrative [around female broadcasters]? It’s going to take consistency. It’s going to take commitment on the part of these big media conglomerates.” 

It’s really that simple. Consistency and commitment. That’s why three years and counting deserves extra attention.

There’s often too much attention paid to “firsts” and not enough to what happens afterward — the consistency and commitment part of the equation. Too often barrier breakers become the first-and-only or the first of very few. Or, decades separate the first from the second. (In NFL broadcasting, Gayle Sierens became the first woman to do play-by-play in December 1987. Beth Mowins became the second in 2015.)

Amazon continues to see the value in the “layers” that Hannah Storm (left) and Andrea Kremer bring to “Thursday Night Football.”
Photo: amazon

When Kremer and Storm debuted on “Thursday Night Football” in 2018, they made headlines as the first all-female NFL broadcast team. But Kremer made something abundantly clear. “The broadcast proposal wasn’t written for two women,” she said. “It was written for Hannah and me.” Kremer’s point: The concept was about talent, not gender. It was about pairing two smart, veteran reporters with decades of experience covering the NFL on TV. Who wouldn’t want that? Better question: Why didn’t an NFL broadcaster get Kremer and Storm together earlier?

Amazon Prime knew what it had. Right after the first season ended, its executives made something abundantly clear. They were in it for more than the headlines. With several months to spare, they renewed Kremer and Storm’s contracts for a second season.

Kremer and Storm’s return to the booth this season shifts the conversation from headline-making (and often publicity-seeking, pandering) firsts to momentum-building seconds and thirds. Women in sports need more of the commitment and consistency that Storm mentioned. Those two ingredients encourage not only a narrative change, but a cultural change in sports broadcasting, coaching, front-office hiring, officiating and elsewhere. Firsts make little impact if they’re not done for the right reasons and if they’re not followed by seconds and thirds and more in quick succession.

Still, to spur consistency and commitment, the firsts have to be exceptional in some way. Kremer and Storm meet that standard with broadcasts full of storytelling, perspective and, above all, expertise. It’s reductive to say they know what they’re talking about. They bring an institutional knowledge of the NFL. (Or, as Storm put it, “For goodness’ sake, Andrea is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”)

The pair also give viewers what Kremer called insight with “layers.” Her favorite example: In 2018, when Nick Mullens started a Thursday night game for the 49ers, Kremer and Storm got information from interviews with the quarterback’s college coach, agent, family, friends, mentors, even a quote from Brett Favre ready to go. After the game, the Amazon executive in charge of production joked, “Slackers, why didn’t you get the midwife that delivered him?” Jokes aside, that kind of reporting is how you get layers and a distinctive broadcast.

“By the virtue of being journalists, being hosts, being reporters, we have a different sensibility of how to talk about the game,” said Kremer. “We’re an option. We know that when people are tuning in they are tuning in to hear what we have to say.”

Added Storm: “You have the unique ability to watch a football game from our perspective. The aim this year is to make it more so that way, to understand that our conversation doesn’t always have to be play-by-play, then analyze the play. They really want us to dive even more deeply into the storytelling and into our perspective on stories around the league. They’re bullish on what we have to say as individuals.”

That kind of freedom and respect is extraordinarily rare and necessary for female sports broadcasters. To get it, you need consistency and commitment. (Kremer and Storm’s résumés don’t hurt either.)

With that freedom and commitment, there’s pressure to represent. Kremer and Storm embrace that pressure and the challenges of broadcasting from a remote studio. They have always called games from Stamford, Conn., and the feed comes from Fox. They don’t see everything that happens on the field immediately or know what the feed will show next.

“We’ve had to walk a fine line between continuing what we’re talking about and acknowledging what’s on the screen,” said Storm. “It’s made for some really hilarious moments. But you have to have a sense of humor about it and roll with it.”

That kind of perspective is valuable, too. Maybe the most valuable. You don’t become the first all-female NFL broadcast team and reach Year 3 if you can’t roll with a lot.

Shira Springer writes about the intersection of sports and culture and teaches journalism at Boston University, including a new course:  “Sports, Gender & Justice.”

Questions about OPED guidelines or letters to the editor? Email editor Jake Kyler at jkyler@sportsbusinessjournal.com