Boise State distance runner Allie Ostrander wants the focus of track and field broadcasts to remain on the contests themselves.
In an Instagram post, Ostrander called out ESPN commentators on Thursday for their discussion of women's bodies during telecasts for the women's NCAA Track and Field Championships the past two years. ESPN issued a statement regarding the comments in question, saying: "We greatly appreciate Allie bringing this important conversation to light. Commentary about height & weight was not broadcast on ESPN. The remark in question was made by the in-venue announcer at the championship."
"This year, the commentators found it necessary to state (incorrectly I might add) my height and weight multiple times. Not only were these comments objectifying and unnecessary, they drew attention away from the real focus of the event. People attend this event and listen to the commentary because they want to see what we're capable of, not what we look like we're capable of.
"So why do the commentators insist on providing information that has nothing to do with performance in the sport? In a sport where eating disorders and body dysmorphia are so common, the media has an opportunity to help women (and men!) feel capable, powerful, and worthy, but by focusing on appearance and body proportions, this opportunity is missed."
Ostrander also shared how analysts called her a "baby-faced assassin" and said she looked like she still played with Barbie dolls during the 2018 3,000-meter steeplechase semifinals. The comment was made by announcer Dwight Stones, who acknowledged it on Twitter, and Jill Montgomery. Stones said it was Montgomery's nickname for Ostrander before she explained it. An ESPN spokesperson says the nickname was not used in 2019 and will not be used at all moving forward. "We're glad Allie brought it to our attention so we could address internally," the statement concludes.
Ostrander her third straight 3,000-meter steeplechase title at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship this month with a new personal best time of 9:37.73. Ostrander became only the 15th athlete in Division I history to win three consecutive titles in the same event outdoors.
Coming off her incredible season, she's been named a semifinalist for The Bowerman, which is awarded to the top male and female collegiate athletes in track and field.