In a sea of rowdy sports fans who are quite awake and vocal despite the early morning hour, stands two of NBC's staple broadcasters. Rebecca Lowe and Kathryn Tappen, who report on soccer and hockey respectively, return to their posts after an on-air hit to highlight NBC Sports and Refinery29's Instagram channel that celebrates women in sports entitled @OnHerTurf at the annual Premier League Fan Fest in New York. Lowe takes center stage at the venue, the only woman surrounded by three men who accompany her during the broadcast.
Lowe, who grew up in England, admits she never saw female sports broadcasters on television, save for one. Crediting a supportive family who pushed her towards her dreams, she said she just went for it.
"I just felt that I could do the job," Lowe said. "So it never really crossed my mind why I shouldn't do the job, because I knew that I knew everything there was to know about soccer."
Lowe hosts Premier League coverage, which continues all season long on NBC networks. While she says that progress has been made towards equality and inclusivity, she thinks a lot of the stubbornness in the sports world lies in tradition, especially in England.
"It's trying to change society's view, perception. Trying to change the norm," Lowe said. "And I think that the way you do that is purely through things like On Her Turf and things that are out there allowing young girls to realize that they do have a claim to that."
Tappen acknowledges that, while her broadcasting experience has been mainly positive, not everyone in the industry is so lucky.
"It can be very intimidating when you walk into a room and it's all men, all the time," Tappen said. "It's a locker room setting, it's very loud, everyone's trying to get their opinion in. You really have to assert yourself. You have to be confident and true to who you are."
Over her 16 years in the sports broadcasting industry, Tappen says she has seen an evolution towards equality.
"I don't think it matters whether you're male or female in a lot of different roles," Tappen said. "I credit NBC for doing a lot of that. They put AJ Mleczko in the booth for hockey. They put me on the air to host hockey. They have Rebecca hosting Premier League. These are giant positions in sports that are being filled by women."
Highlighting progress towards equality simultaneously shines a light on how much further we need to go. However, Lowe stresses that the industry must not rush or overcompensate. She has full confidence that it's only a matter of time before there are just as many women as there are men in the sports world.
"We're still in an era where we have to fight," Lowe said. "But give me 20 years and I can guarantee you we will be much, much further ahead."
NBC will broadcast 40 matches in 14 days during the Festive Fixtures period of the Premier League schedule. Check your local listing and follow @NBCSportsSoccer for more!