Trenni Kusnierek On The Celtics' Winning Streak And Sexism In Sports Media

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Trenni Kusnierek, sports anchor & reporter for NBC Sports Boston. (Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/2014)
Trenni Kusnierek, sports anchor & reporter for NBC Sports Boston. (Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/2014)

In today's episode of Season Ticket, The Boston Globe's Chris Gasper (@cgasper) welcomes sports anchor and reporter Trenni Kusnierek. They preview the upcoming Patriots game against the Chargers and react to Kyrie Irving and Al Horford's newfound chemistry in the Celtics' win over the Bucks. Then they discuss Kusnierek's career and talk about sexism in sports media.


Interview Highlights

On what the Patriots lost when Hightower went down with injury

Trenni Kusnierek: Even if Dont'a Hightower doesn't make a ton of plays [every game]—maybe he's not the leading tackler—he always makes the play. Think about that tackle at the goal line against Marshawn Lynch in the Super Bowl against Seattle that led to Malcolm Butler being able to intercept the ball. Think about the strip sack of Matt Ryan in the Super Bowl [against Atlanta]. Biggest play of the game. It's always Dont'a Hightower.

"I am not here for you to look at my outfit or talk about my shoes or talk about my dress. You should be listening to what I'm saying."

Trenni Kusnierek, on the over-sexualization of on-air female talent

On where a Super Bowl championship this season would rank for Bill Belichick

Chris Gasper: When I look at the big picture...the Patriots are gonna get to the playoffs and they're not gonna have two of their five most important players, in Julian Edelman and Hightower. [If] they win the Super Bowl, if Bill can pull this off, it would be one of his best coaching jobs.

Trenni Kusnierek: It has to be, right? I mean, next to, maybe, their first Super Bowl win in 2001 when they were huge underdogs to the St. Louis Rams, it has to be. What he's able to do year in and year out, getting the guys you don't think can do anything to be productive, is what makes Bill Belichick the greatest.

On the Celtics' win over the Milwaukee Bucks

Chris Gasper: You're starting to see this team round into form a little bit. They've won three in a row. That was a big win against Milwaukee because I think Milwaukee is one of the teams that is a chief competitor for the Celtics for the title of "Next Best Team in the East" below Cleveland.

Trenni Kusnierek: I think last night was a big win because the win against the Knicks was great, but it was the Knicks, a franchise that's in complete disarray, and you had to rely on [the young guys]. And you know you're not going to get a combined 40+ points from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum every single night. So for Al Horford and Kyrie Irving to combine for 50 points last night, for them to take over the game...that just maintains this excitement around the Celtics.

"If I couldn't handle it, I wouldn't be in this industry."

Trenni Kusnierek, on the sexism she's faced while working in sports media

On how Gordon Hayward's injury affected Kyrie Irving

Trenni Kusnierek: Let's remember, this is a guy who was traded for, and practiced with, Gordon Hayward and thought that they were gonna be a pair. And I wonder if the injury affected [Kyrie] more than anybody else because, while I know he wants to be the guy, he wasn't that great at being the guy in Cleveland before LeBron was there. He seems to be a fairly self-aware, almost a little bit of a sensitive person, and I wonder if, in the back of his mind, he was saying, "Oh great. I gotta do it all now." [Maybe] it just took him a little while to figure out, "Listen, I don't have to do everything. I can rely on other people. And, I don't need to prove to everyone that I need to be scoring 30-40 points per game." I think that's human nature.

On how the behavior towards women in sports media has improved since she first started working

Trenni Kusnierek: I think people now are more aware of what [women] have to deal with. For me to say that it hasn't progressed—I'd be lying to you. It has progressed. When I was 18 or 19 years old and I was interning, guys would come up to [me] and drop towels in locker rooms and stand naked. They would try to intimidate [me] and try to make [me] feel uncomfortable. That does not happen anymore

On how sexism in sports and sports media is still prevalent today

Trenni Kusnierek: I think what [women] still face is the mansplaining and the thinking we can't handle ourselves. And this question of do we belong and how did we get where we are. People still ask me, "Did you like sports growing up?" Of course I liked sports! If I didn't like sports, why would I be in sports? There is still this thought of, "'re doing this to find a husband, right?" or, "You wanna go in and check out guys in the locker room." That, to me, is still the most pervasive thing. Or, it's that you can't hold your own [as a woman]. There's a lot of men that feel they have to be a protector for you: "I don't like what that person said to you" or "Are you okay after this happened?" Yeah! Yeah, I can handle it. If I couldn't handle it, I wouldn't be in this industry.

On how sports media outlets objectify women and perpetuate a casual form of sexism

Trenni Kusnierek: I consider myself a feminist and I know that this sort of waffles between being a feminist [and not]. How you dress shouldn't represent who you are. But, at the same time, Fox Sports—and I'm just going to say Fox because Fox is one of the networks that does this the most—really over-sexualizes a lot of their on-air female talent. People say, "Who cares how a woman dresses? This is an industry that's entertainment." And I get it! If I was 30, 40 pounds heavier and...had a hideous disfigurement on my face I wouldn't be on television. I know that...But, I also feel like, this is still a job. I am not here for you to look at my outfit or talk about my shoes or talk about my dress. You should be listening to what I'm saying.

Josh Crane Producer, Podcasts & New Programs
Josh is a producer for podcasts and new programs at WBUR.



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