Watch: ESPN Sideline Reporter Shares Disturbing News


Women in sports media face unique challenges in their profession on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, one of these problems is criticism and insults from fans who do not respect the female view of sports.

By joining ESPN as an announcer for the 2021-2022 NHL season, Leah Hextall contributed to the network’s return to hockey coverage after a multi-year hiatus.

While her role as the first woman to regularly call game after game for nationally televised NHL games has been celebrated by some, she has also been met with harsh criticism from others.

Hextall spoke about the abuse she faced during her debut season in a recent interview with The Athletic.

“It just doesn’t seem like there’s going to be an end to it,” she said.

Hextall said the messages she has received over the past year have been “vile. Sexist. misogynistic. And threatening. She even mentioned a case where a critic threatened to kill her.

It said: “You live in Winnipeg. It won’t be hard to track you down,” Hextall said during a conference this summer, “and when I’m done with you, I’m going to put a gun in your mouth and blow your brains out so no one has to hear you announce a hockey game again.”

“It’s not just once. I have a full folder,” she continued.

Hextall said she loves her job, but the constant criticism and insults are hard to handle.

“I love my job and I love what I do, but this year it was very difficult. It wasn’t fun,” she told The Athletic. I didn’t show up at the rink and didn’t feel like I was working in a candy store, as it usually happens when I cover hockey. … There was a lot to do, most of all, mental gymnastics. There was a lot of criticism — not only among the audience of social networks, but also among the hockey fraternity — which I was not used to encountering. And a lot of it seemed to stem from my gender.”


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