SBD/Issue 29/Sports Industrialists
Catching Up With ESPN Sideline Reporter Erin Andrews
Published October 24, 2008
|ESPN's Erin Andrews|
Favorite sports city: Boston, Chicago, any SEC town
What are you most afraid of: Birds
Dream car: I’d have to say my dream car is the car I currently drive, which is a BMW SUV
Favorite Web sites: People.com, TMZ.com
An idea you wish you thought of: Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts
Favorite airline: Delta
Book you are currently reading: “The Five People You Meet In Heaven,” by MITCH ALBOM
Q: In a July column by GateHouse News Service's MIKE NADEL, he criticized you for the way you dressed and your interactions with players. What were your thoughts/feelings when this happened?
Andrews: This was an opinion of one guy who isn’t on television. And he has to dress very differently from how we would dress. When we come to town for a game it’s a big deal and we really dress up because we’re reaching a national audience, so I’m not going to wear … I couldn’t wear what he wears. I think my overall thought was he’s the first one that’s ever complained and I think if it had been a problem I would have heard about it before. I’m just a target right now for people that either want to come after me or make headway on the Internet, and I've got to accept that, have thick skin and watch everything I do. I’m learning that I’m a target moreso than anyone and I haven’t figured out why yet, but I just have to make sure everything’s covered. I think what I have to realize is that people are going to take shots at me regardless if I’m in a dress or a jacket from head to toe.
Q: What are some of the most interesting fan encounters you’ve experienced?
Andrews: Well, you get the marriage proposals and I’ve been getting the guys painting their chest with my name on it. But it’s actually started to pick up (getting noticed). I’ve started to learn that falling asleep on a plane, maybe I need to wear a hat. I’ll fall asleep on the plane and I’m out before takeoff and I’m comatose -- that’s my time to sleep, when I'm on the plane traveling from one game to another. You don’t know what you look like when you sleep but as soon as I wake up someone says, "So, what game are you going to?" and I’m just like "Oh my gosh, where am I? What city am I in?" I don’t know if I’m drooling or I had my mouth wide open or what. You don’t feel like people are watching you but they really are.
Q: Who is your favorite sports figure to cover?
Andrews: My favorite people to be around in sports are DAVID ORTIZ and DEREK JETER. With Derek, he is always first class all the way. He may not tell you a lot in an interview but he’s Derek Jeter and he’s always accessible and he’ll always help you out with anything you need. I just think somebody of his stature, living in New York and the way he handles himself with the media and the fans, I really appreciate it. It’s pretty admirable. And with David Ortiz, he’s one of my favorites because obviously we come across a lot of sports figures, and good mood, bad mood, you never know how you’re going to catch them. But with Big Papi, what you see is what you get. He always has a smile on his face. He always remembers where he came from. It’s just nice because you've got these guys who are glorified in sports and they are made out to be such superstars and the cool thing about both of those guys are they both are superstars because they treat the media so well and they’ll give us what we need.
Q: How has blogging changed sports journalism?
Andrews: Sports blogging is what it is. I’m trying to do my best to stay away from it. One thing is it gives people a voice and they may not know the whole story and that could be very damaging. On the other end, blogging has made me pretty popular -- I don’t know if popular is the right word -- but it’s created kind of an animal for me on the Internet. I think it’s important for me and my employers not to take it so seriously because it gives people a voice that may not know the whole story.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions people have about you?
Andrews: I don’t think they realize how much work goes into it, for me personally. I study more than I ever did in college. I don’t think people really get how much I study. I have people come up to me on the sidelines and they see the thick pad I walk around with and they say, "Wow! Is that all your work?" and I kind of just laugh, like "No, somebody did this all for me." I’ve read comments that people make about me and they think that my life is all glamorous. I would highly invite those people to come and travel with me, come walk on the sidelines and see what it’s like. I would love to take anyone up on that. I think a lot of people think it’s really, really glamorous, and there are times when you are in the pouring rain or you’re running up and down the sidelines and you trip and fall, or you have to eat a hot dog just to get two seconds of nourishment in before you go grab a coach. You’re like "Ah, this is so glamorous."
Q: Do you think sideline reporters are still relevant?
Andrews: There are a lot of people who think (sideline reporting) is a waste of time. That’s why I think this year and over the past year you see what CBS has done, you kind of can’t help but think, "OK, how can I make my job relevant and make it a necessity on the sidelines?" We are the set of eyes down there that the booth or cameras don’t have. That’s really something I’ve pushed myself with. I’ve kind of concentrated the past two years on not coming in with the pre-produced stories, or as a lot of people like to say the fluff stories.
Last year, DENNIS DIXON with Oregon was leading the Heisman and a lot of people thought he was going to win it, and I’m down there and we knew he was banged up heading into the game at Arizona. So I’m down there (on the sidelines) and I’m watching him and he takes a hit (where he tears his knee ligaments). He comes over to the sidelines and our cameras and our announcers are focused on the game, but I’m standing right there and the trainer starts crying. And I’m like, "You guys, the trainer’s crying. The trainer wouldn’t be crying if something wasn’t wrong." And then they bring down his dad and I grab his dad and I asked, "What’s going on? What have you heard?" That is why you need a sideline reporter.
Andrews Says Storm Is One Of The Reasons
She Wanted To Get Into Broadcasting
Andrews: My dad, STEVE ANDREWS, is in television and works for the NBC affiliate in Tampa. I also always looked up to HANNAH STORM growing up. She was kind of the one who got me into it. I always watched the NBA on NBC and I loved her. The cool thing for me was this year at the Home Run Derby she was in New York. It was the first time I got to meet her and it was funny because there were all these big time baseball players coming back for the All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium and I got to meet Hannah and I was more excited about that.
Q: If you could change something about the sports industry what would it be?
Andrews: The overall perception of women. I think that you look at a lot of the women we have at ESPN and how hard they work and there’s still a perception. I think you still get it from people that just don’t want to change. That’s what that Chicago article was about. When all that happened I thought to myself, ‘Are we still dealing with this?’ That’s why I invite anyone to come and hang out with me and see what it’s like for me. I don’t think that people think I am as big of a tomboy or a sports fan as I am. That’s what I think is cool, when people are around me for the first time and they talk sports with me and the common reaction is, "Oh wow, you really are a sports fan. You really do know a lot." It’s hard not to laugh or roll your eyes because it’s like, "Well, what did you think? Because I have blonde hair, I am 5'10" and I like to look nice that you think I’m just there as an ornament?"
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Andrews: I’m enjoying right now where I am on the sidelines. I like being part of the action. A lot of people bring up to me maybe entertainment, maybe studio and I’m never going to turn up my nose at any of that stuff but I think the one thing for me is I love being a part of the drama. Whether it’s on the field, court, if it’s a big injury that we have to follow and I’m at Ohio State’s hotel at 5am the day of the USC game, I love that stuff. I like the rush of it all. I love following stories and getting to know the players and them telling you the inside scoop. It’s really a good time for me. I love being a snoop, seeing what the coaches are saying or watching the trainers try to hide stuff from me that they’re bringing out for an injured player. It’s just really fun.