BY LEILA RAHIMI, CSN CHICAGO
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 5:00 p.m. deadline on a 10:00 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.
TOMBOY: ELEVATING THE DISCUSSION OF GENDER AND SPORTS
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.
TOMBOY: THE IMPORTANCE OF DIRECT COMMUNICATION
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 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.