Phyllis George, the former Miss America who became a female sportscasting pioneer on CBS’s “The NFL Today,” has died. She was 70.
A family spokeswoman said George died Thursday at a Lexington hospital after a long fight with a blood disorder. George joined The NFL Today in 1975 after winning Miss America in 1971. Her presence in the sports media world was a barrier breaker for women who wanted to be sports broadcasters.
George inspired females to join the ranks, including former journalist and Arizona Sports Hall of Fame inductee Paola Boivin.
“Growing up a female, wanting to be a sports journalist, there was nobody I could look up to and suddenly, she appears on TV," she said. “You know my mom would buy me barbies and I would put eye black on them and do play-by-play seriously, more than the work she did, just her being on the air and her presence was a big thing for me.”
Boivin dealt with a fair share of criticism from readers of the Los Angeles Daily News and even from players she covered when first entering the business and she knows that George had to overcome that as well.
Boivin now teaches at the Arizona State Unversity's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She uses George's path in her teachings. If she could say anything to the late star, it'd be this.
“Thank you and to her family, I hope they appreciate just how many doors she opened, it was a brave, brave step she took and it opened the doors for so many people.”