Jobs Homes Autos For Sale










Columnist
Sideline reporter Dales leaving ESPN a 'first-class' diva move
By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald Columnist
print story
email story
Published: 2/21/2009 12:01 AM

Send To:

E-mail:
To:

From:

Name:
E-mail:

Comments:

Let's talk about perspective.

People are losing their jobs by the millions. They're losing their homes, too.

Many of us who do still have jobs are being asked to take paycuts, or do without raises or bonuses, all while paying the same or more for goods and services.

Meanwhile, retirement accounts everywhere have become a complete joke, thanks to Ponzi schemes and one of the most volatile stock markets in decades. People are losing millions there, too.

It's depressing to see our economy in such shambles. It's depressing to see good people losing so, so much.

And then there's Stacey Dales.

The former Chicago Sky guard made headlines this week, particularly on Internet blogs, for a decision she made that smacks of arrogance and ingratitude in this climate.

She decided to quit her sideline reporting job at ESPN. Why did she quit, you ask?

Well, it's a reason any one of us might give for quitting a job, particularly in these challenging times. (I hope my sarcasm came through there.)

According to reports and sources at ESPN, Dales had to fly coach for business travel to and from games while many of her colleagues were flying first class.

Yes, you read that right.

Dales quit a desirable, high-profile, and what I'm sure was a very nice-paying job because she had to slum it with the common folk - common folk that includes, of course, other white-collar professionals who are expected to travel coach for business every single day.

"At some point, you have to take a stand at whatever you are doing in life," Dales told The Oklahoman, which served as her hometown newspaper when she played her college ball at Oklahoma. "That's not sounding like a feminist. That's not sounding like a spoiled, rotten kid. That's making a business decision that affects the quality of your life. That was an important thing for me."

OK. Sure. Um, what exactly was it that Dales is standing up for again?

Note to Stacey: We're in an economic depression here. Companies all over the globe, even ESPN, I would imagine, are trying to slash costs right now on everything from free coffee in the break room - to, yep, first-class travel.

And what's with the comparisons? Yeah, it's not cool to be the odd man out, but the broadcasters you were traveling with this fall for ESPN's football coverage - Brad Nessler, Paul Maguire and Bob Griese - are longtime veterans who are a bit more tenured and well traveled than you.

It's possible they even had travel perks such as first-class upgrades negotiated into their contracts years ago.

Still, some people see inequity here. Even Dales indirectly floated the notion when she insisted, perhaps with a bit of reverse psychology, "That's not sounding like a feminist."

Of course, anyone who reads this space regularly knows that I'm all about gender equity. I always want to see women treated fairly in sports, and in life.

But this time, I'm skeptical that anything is amiss here.

The reality is, every professional has to pay dues and climb the ladder. Some people do so for their entire careers, to no avail.

Maybe the answer here is simple. Maybe the 29-year-old Dales simply hadn't climbed enough rungs in her six years of broadcasting, in which much of that time was spent as an entry-level, in-studio analyst for women's college basketball games.

Then again, it is also entirely possible that there could be something more to this story. Much more. Part of me wants to believe that must be the case, that Dales couldn't have made such a foolish decision over what amounts to better snacks and a few extra inches of legroom.

In covering the Sky, I got to know Dales, albeit on a very surface level. From what I could tell, she's smart and fairly nice. She was also usually respectful and accommodating to the media.

I left her two voice mails and an e-mail this week asking if she'd like to further explain her decision and her position.

I never heard back from her, which, as a side note, is ironic, considering that she's now a reporter herself and probably expects people to get back to her.

Anyway, it's possible that Dales never got any of my messages. I'm willing to concede that.

But it's also possible that she's regretting her actions, is embarrassed by the attention she's getting and is no longer in a mood to talk.

I think there's a good chance the latter might be true.

After all, being a diva is just so out right now.

pbabcock@dailyherald.com