CSN TOMBOY

TOMBOY: CSN's Leila Rahimi

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TOMBOY: CSN's Leila Rahimi

What experience had the biggest impact on your life and career in sports and why?

This is going to sound like an odd answer, but surviving various challenges in our business. I’ve gone through everything from having to get a police escort to shoot video when I was a news reporter, only to be suspended from being on air because acquiring the escort made me late for a 5 p.m. deadline on a 10 p.m. show. That supervisor who made the decision was also sued for gender discrimination by a previous employee. In another market I dealt with a mass layoff after we’d have to hear about what happened in court proceedings regarding our station on Twitter. Then there was the simple, but not easy, task of shooting video every day with a 35-pound camera and 18-pound tripod for seven years in several different markets.

Who’s had the biggest impact and why?  

The person who has the biggest impact on your career in this business… is yourself.

What are some of the funniest moments you’ve experienced as a woman in sports?

When I was a “one-man-band,” where you shoot video, edit and report it, and I carried the gear around, I’d get a lot of “that camera is bigger than you are” discussion. I’d just laugh it off. I’ve had a guy accuse me of using my looks to get hired at a radio station because they didn’t get the NASCAR results fast enough (this is when we’d get updates from a wire service faster than the internet would refresh them). That made me laugh.

What was the most negative moment you’ve experienced? The one that got you fired up or perhaps made you think about quitting.

Various moments will make you question your employment in TV. You just have to keep going.

Have you had any teachable moments?  i.e. someone made an ignorant comment, but had no idea you were offended– until you said something?

Sadly I don’t have much of a filter, so when someone makes a comment and I get upset about it, they know pretty quickly. I’m the one who should probably look into that more on my end than the other way around.

Any awkward moments?

I’ve had people ask about my dating availability. I say I don’t want to lose my job. That makes it pretty self-explanatory. What frustrates me is when I’d be having a perfectly normal conversation with an athlete (aka, a coworker) and if I was talking to that person “too long,” I’d worry that someone would think something wasn’t right with the situation, that it would look suspicious. When in reality, we were probably talking about Target or something very basic like that, or someone was teaching me something about the sport they play, or there was a play during a game they wanted to describe, etc. Simply because I’m a woman and the athlete is a man, it could “look bad.”

What are you most proud of?

Again, I’d say surviving. This business is hard on relationships, personal lives, self-esteem, you name it.

A lot of girls look up to you- and aspire to be on TV covering sports…..What is the most important message you want to send to them?

The obsession with looks in our business has really increased since I started out. That may sound weird given that it’s TV, but I’ve been told I won’t get a lot of jobs because I’m not blonde. It’s true. I didn’t get some chances because I didn’t have a certain look. But don’t get discouraged. Don’t go changing because someone else wants you to. “Do you,” and know that the biggest asset is always knowledge. If you want to be taken seriously, read and watch as much sports as possible. That’s how you stay employed.

TOMBOY: #YesAllWomenInSports

TOMBOY: #YesAllWomenInSports

By Tess Quinlan

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a sports journalist.

There might have been a very brief stint in kindergarten where Friendly’s waitress was discussed as an option, but that melted away as quickly as a Cone Head sundae.

With the exception of kindergarten, there was no hesitation or question; I was going to be a sports journalist. I was going to do anything to get there, but there were going to be some rough moments.

I remember being the only girl watching the game with the boys. I remember the isolation of being the only woman on a beat. I remember the skeptical looks, the odd questions, and the doubtful comments.

But by far, the absolute worst part of all was, and still is, The Quiz.

Any woman that works in sports journalism will tell you that at some point in her life, she has been subjected to a quiz by someone who thinks they know more about sports than she does. It could be someone close to them, like a friend or family member, or someone that she’s just met, like a guy in a bar, your barista or mechanic.

The quiz normally starts with little questions with an air of superiority and condescension, normally starting with “WELL” and ending with “Huh?!” (Real-life example-WELL, What is Utah’s mascot, huh?!)

As a woman, you know that a man would never be subjected to this in a serious context. You are acutely aware that this is not a joke. There is an expectation that you must answer the basic, idiotic questions to show your knowledge and that is the most frustrating thing of all.

If someone tells you they’re an accountant, you don’t ask them to debit an account. If someone tells you they’re a history teacher, you don’t demand they list all the presidents. You don’t make them prove that they are knowledgeable in their field. You take their word for it.

As a society, we still have a long way to go with how we see women in sports, both on and off the floor, but we have made tremendous progress. For all of The Quizzes, there are genuine questions and supporters.

I once asked my mom if she ever tried to convince me to pursue another career. She started to laugh. “Even if I wanted to, I never had a chance. You decided very early that this was what you were going to do. You were constantly going to games with your dad, so I just tried to help in whatever way I could.”

Her encouragement made me focus on the positive aspects of what I do.

For me, work is debating whether or not Terrell Owens should be in the Hall of Fame or covering a March Madness game. It’s always something new.

There’s enough competition in sports, so let’s stop the quizzes and start the support.

CSN Chicago joins NBC Sports in celebrating Women's History Month with TOMBOY

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CSN Chicago joins NBC Sports in celebrating Women's History Month with TOMBOY

CSN Chicago to premiere the one-hour TOMBOY documentary feature on Monday, March 13 at 9:00 PM CT
CSN to also air an accompanying local “Women in Sports” roundtable special on Wednesday, March 8 at 9:00 PM
Numerous TOMBOY videos, interviews, podcasts, symposium highlights, and much more available at CSNChicago.com/TOMBOY

Chicago, IL (March 2, 2017) – To celebrate Women’s History Month in March, CSN Chicago proudly joins NBC Sports' TOMBOY initiative, a first-of-its-kind, multi-platform documentary project that aims to elevate the conversation about gender in sports told through the voices of many of the world’s most prominent females athletes, broadcasters, and sports executives.  The TOMBOY initiative (presented by GEICO) is being celebrated throughout the country on NBC Sports Regional Networks from coast to coast with the airing of a one-hour documentary feature, special locally-produced programs, video interviews, podcasts, symposiums, and much more.

The one-hour TOMBOY documentary, which features many prominent athletes, sports executives and media members sharing their unique stories and experiences, will premiere on CSN Chicago on Monday, March 13 at 9:00 PM CT.  Notable figures appearing in the film include four-time World Cup-champion skier Lindsey Vonn, Little League World Series pitching sensation Mo'ne Davis, Basketball Hall of Famer Ann Meyers-Drysdale, and legendary champion for gender equality/tennis icon Billie Jean King among others. In the last 40 years, the number of females participating in sports has nearly doubled, with two out of every five girls today choosing to play sports, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. The documentary discusses reasons why some girls aren’t playing sports, as well as increases in awareness and conversation about the participation of women in sports.  NOTE: CSN will also re-air the TOMBOY documentary on the following dates/times: 3/17 at 12:30 PM, 3/18 at 4:30 PM, 3/19 at 8:00 PM, 3/22 at 7:00 PM, and 3/31 at 11:00 PM.

In addition, CSN Chicago will be airing a special, locally-produced "Women in Sports" roundtable discussion show on Wednesday, March 8 at 9:00 PM CT.  Hosted by CSN anchor/reporter Kelly Crull, this half-hour special features a prominent local panel, including veteran NBC Chicago sports anchor/reporter Peggy Kusinski, Head Coach of Northwestern University’s massively-successful women’s lacrosse team Kelly Amonte Hiller, along with Sami Grisafe, quarterback of the Women's Football Alliance's (WFA) Chicago Force.  Among the topics of discussion include how women's roles in sports have evolved over time and if sufficient progress has been made, challenges faced along their respective career paths, how they first became involved in sports, and much more.  CSN will re-air its "Women in Sports" local special on the following dates/times: 3/9 at 5:30 PM, 3/10 at 2:30 PM, and 3/11 at 9:00 PM.

Plus -- CSN Chicago will also air a special program featuring focused solely on the legendary Billie Jean King. The half-hour interview show, Billie Jean King: Elevating the Conversation, will debut Thursday, March 9 at 11:00 PM, and will encore Sunday, March 12 at 6:00 PM.

Earlier this week (Monday, February 27), CSN Chicago held a "Women in Sports" symposium at DePaul University’s Student Center, which included a TOMBOY documentary sneak preview screening & a spirited panel discussion featuring CSN’s Kelly Crull as the symposium’s host/moderator, along with panelists Jean Lenti Ponsetto (DePaul University, Athletics Director), Doug Bruno (DePaul University, Women’s Basketball Head Coach), Susan Goodenow (Chicago Bulls, VP of Marketing & Branding), Peggy Kusinski (NBC Chicago, Sports Anchor/Reporter), and Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars, Forward).  As part of the symposium, and in conjunction with the TOMBOY initiative, CSN Chicago VP/GM Phil Bedella presented a $5,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago to be used to purchase sports equipment for children who attend the Club(s). 

The donation stems from Comcast NBCUniversal's longstanding partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  Comcast NBCUniversal has supported local Boys & Girls Clubs for more than 15 years, providing nearly $125 million in cash and in-kind contributions since 2009 alone.  In late 2014, Comcast NBCUniversal announced a five-year agreement with BGCA valued at tens of millions of dollars, making BGCA the company’s largest community partner.  At the center of that agreement is a new technology education initiative, called My.Future, which is designed to open the eyes of young people to what’s possible for them to achieve through technology.  Highlights from CSN Chicago’s "Women in Sports" symposium at DePaul University can be accessed via the following link: http://www.csnchicago.com/video/tomboy-women-sports-symposium .

For additional TOMBOY content, including original on-camera interviews and career stories, podcasts, documentary trailers, and much more, viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com/TOMBOY. Social media users can also join the conversation and find additional information by utilizing the hashtag #CSNTOMBOY on Twitter and Facebook and by visiting @CSNTOMBOY.