SBD/December 13, 2013/Events and Attractions

Intercollegiate Athletic Forum: Tracy Wolfson Defends The Importance Of Sideline Reporters

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Wolfson's nine-year tenure on SEC broadcasts has helped build continuity
CBS Sports' Tracy Wolfson opened up about being a sideline reporter, from the increased scrutiny those in her profession face to the unique opportunities she is presented with by being so close to the action. Wolfson, during a one-on-one interview at the '13 IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, said, "I've always said from the first time I joined my crew, my job is to get what Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson can't get from the booth. Verne is the best storyteller in the business; I don't have to do that. My job is to get what they can't get -- whether it's an injury report, whether it's something being talked about in the huddle, the interviews on the field, the interviews postgame, something as small or funny or bizarre as a sewing machine being on the sideline during that Auburn game. So that's my role, and I respect that. Whether you're on two times a game or 10 times a game, it doesn't matter. I think we saw the role of the sideline reporter and how it's so important and how it's used this year specifically, starting with the Super Bowl and the lights go out -- that's when the sideline reporter earns their money; that's when they really need to be on."

CONTINUITY OF COVERAGE: Wolfson has been part of CBS' SEC broadcast crew for the better part of a decade, and she said the continuity has helped her. "It's huge," she said. "Having covered one conference for 10 years -- same coaches basically, same SIDs, the players stick around, you know the venues, how they work, you know the trainers, doctors. ... There's a trust and respect factor there." Wolfson also spoke about her idols in the industry, saying, "Lesley Visser has actually helped me the most; she's an icon in this industry. I didn't grow up, really, with any female role models. I grew up watching ‘NBA Inside Stuff,’ I had no cable and that was the first show I remember watching -- I remember watching Willow Bay and I said, 'I want to be Willow Bay; I want to be on ‘NBA Inside Stuff,’ and that was it. That's when I decided being a sideline reporter was what I want to do."

SOCIAL MEDIA'S DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD: Wolfson said that while social media is enlightening and refreshing, it can be difficult to deal with when it comes to some of the vitriol spewed her way. She said, "Tweeting during games, it's something that CBS came up with this year, which I think is great. It's a way for us to get involved with social media a little bit more and show a view from the sidelines on Twitter that we might not get into a broadcast. It's worked well this year. I enjoy it and I try to interact with the fans as much as possible, because they want to feel like they know you. They ask you questions and I try to respond back as much as I can.” But she said she has rules that she tries to follow regarding social media: “Never Google yourself or search yourself on Twitter; those are two rules for anyone in this business."

QUICK HITS:
* Wolfson's favorite venue to cover games: "Alabama. I love the tradition; I love the history; I love the stadium, the noise factor. But my favorite campus is Athens."

* Favorite fan base: (With a laugh) “Not LSU at night. But, actually, everybody's really great; the fans down in the South, you can't beat them."

* Sport she has not covered that she wishes to do: "I want to do the Olympics; I think that would be a really fun thing to do. I worked at Nagano -- I researched ice skating -- but I think to be involved in the Olympics one time would be a big one on my bucket list.”

* On work/life balance: "It's difficult. I have an amazing husband ... who I would not be able to do it without. I have three kids under the age of seven and a babysitter that helps us out as well, but without all that support, I wouldn't be able to do my job right now. So it's difficult but when you love what you do, it does make it easier."

For more from the Intercollegiate Athletic Forum, please see our On The Ground blog.
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