Having grown up with openly LGBTQ family members, Jenny Dial Creech always leaned toward accepting others’ differences.
“It shouldn’t be hard to be who you are. From an early age, equal rights, human rights, and the way we treat people mattered to me a lot more than I can explain,” she says.
It’s a value that she has carried throughout her career in sports media. Creech worked 14 years at the Houston Chronicle as a reporter on multiple beats, and as an assistant sports editor and columnist. Now, she’s the managing editor of the local online sports publication The Athletic Houston.
The way Creech sees it, sports serves as a great unifier for people from all walks of life.
“I look at something like a locker room full of players from all different cities, different wealth brackets, ethnicities—everything. They can all come together for one common goal and a positive experience,” she notes. “Think of a section of fans at a basketball game. You can find anyone from anywhere in the world there. For four quarters, they don’t care about political affiliations or where they’re from. They come together because they want to win.”
During her time in the newsroom, she’s covered the Astros, Comets, Rockets, Texans, college athletics, and more, and she tells it like she sees it in her articles, sometimes taking hard-line stances on unpopular issues.
“I became the person who would write on social issues and trending issues more than anyone else. I’d be the one to write about domestic and sexual assaults. I’d call [athletes and teams] out for sexism. I’d call teams out for not having Pride nights. I would like to see big social changes in sports,” she says.
As a woman in sports media, Creech is all too familiar with discrimination—a storyline that parallels the experiences of many queer people.
“There’s not a ton of women out there doing it, but [we have quite a few] good female sports-media members. It’s not always easy. People remind you frequently that you’re different, even if they’re not trying to be negative,” she says. “But I do think we’re making big strides with females in sports. There’s a bigger support system now, and there are a lot of men who champion us and want to see us do well. I’m in year 15 of my career, and it’s better now than it was in year one, so I’ll call that a win.”
Sports teams are not usually known for having openly gay players, and Creech says she can see reasons why some players choose to not put their sexuality on display. Once they come out, their ability to play the sport often takes a back seat to their gender and sexuality.
“In my job, I get Twitter comments and emails every single day. People want me to know they think a woman should not have my job. They really feel the need to share that with me. Likewise, if there’s a gay football player, he’s going to hear that he doesn’t belong every single day. It sucks that people feel the need to share that with you. But eventually, it will become a positive response.”
She also feels that sports could and should be doing more for all fans, including the LGBTQ ones.
“Two years ago, I went to a women’s soccer game [for the team’s] Pride night. I sat next to a 14-year-old girl with her mother, and tears were streaming down the girl’s face because she felt it was okay to be who she was. That’s powerful. I’m going to hold out hope that teams are going to be more cognizant of the power they hold in showing support for an entire community,” she adds.
When she’s not following sports, Creech enjoys spending time with her husband and son, and she also serves on the board for the Association of Women in Sports Media.