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Getting Starting Without Experience By Mattie Lou Chandler

Barrett Sports Media

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Young people often ask me “how do I get started in the media business”? It should be easy to answer, but it’s not. That’s because everyone travels a different path to their first break.

In many cases, internships are an advantage. They help you get your foot in the door. Then it’s up to the individual to work their tail off and prove that they have that extra-something that stands out. During my programming days I’d have my Assistant Program Directors oversee the process, and we’d identify 1 or 2 of the 10-15 people who came through the door that were worth holding onto at the end of the quarter. When interns know that their hard work could result in a future job at the radio station, they’re more inclined to give their best effort.

But what if an internship isn’t an option? Some stations require college credit to get inside the building. In my opinion, that’s one of the silliest rules in our industry. Why would a radio station turn down free help? Especially from people who see the internship as their one big shot? I know insurance salesmen, bartenders, callers, and contest winners who occupy the airwaves in major markets today. If someone has talent, passion, and dedication, that’s what should matter most. If a radio station hadn’t allowed me to intern (without being in college at the time), I’d have never gone on to program in three top 20 markets, produce some of the industry’s top national shows, and host my own program.

socialgrowthIf there’s one advantage today that didn’t exist when I was working my way up, it’s that the internet and social media have created platforms for people to develop their skills and expand their connections. Every aspiring broadcaster has the opportunity to podcast, record videos on YouTube, and establish a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Periscope.

I’ve said this many times, there’s no excuse for young media professionals to not seek out program directors, corporate executives, talent, and producers on social media. The worst someone can do is deny your request. If they accept it, you get a chance to interact, and understand who they are, and what they value. That relationship has potential to one day lead to opportunity IF you have talent and the fit they’re looking for. Most jobs in this business are filled through word of mouth, internal connections, and external relationships. It’s a lot harder to be unknown to a hiring manager, and land a great position based on submitting an email or filling out an application.

Since starting my own company, Barrett Sports Media, I’ve had a chance to spend more time researching people, listening to different markets, and reading websites that I didn’t get a chance to enjoy as much in the past. One site that I’ve spent more time reading lately has been Outkick The Coverage. It’s run by Fox Sports personality Clay Travis, and features a good mix of sports coverage, media topics, and pop culture.

otcIt’s on Outkick The Coverage that I became familiar with Mattie Lou Chandler. When she first reached out expressing interest in writing a column for the website I was unfamiliar with her background. I’m not a viewer of the Bachelor or Bachelorette, so I had to venture into unfamiliar territory and read her recaps of the show to get an idea of her style. What I discovered was that her writing was conversational, inviting, and very entertaining. In one of her recaps she said “If I make a joke that Johnny Manziel is currently going through his 2007 Brittney Spears phase, you better laugh“. It was hard not to chuckle and continue reading.

That left me wondering though if she had an ability to write deeper content. After doing some research, I landed on a story she wrote about Jameis Winston. The headline read, “A Victim’s Perspective on Jameis Winston and FSU“. In the article, she opened up about some of her personal experiences and how they related to the story, in addition to sharing her opinion on how Jameis Winston conducts himself. I was impressed with her willingness to put a personal side of herself on display because not everyone has the courage to do that.

bstAfter sorting through a number of her stories, and getting familiar with her witty, sarcastic, light hearted, and direct personality on Twitter (how can you not appreciate the opening line on her profile – “Attempting to combat the Wussification of America“), I touched base to ask her what she’d like to write about. After brainstorming some ideas Mattie Lou came up with the column you’re about to read. I think you’ll find it really helpful if you’re looking to open the doors and develop a career in the industry. Especially if you’re female.

There are a few areas that I think are especially valuable. From the way she got her break, to her approach to social media, to discovering the importance of finding your own niche and being willing to sacrifice and work multiple jobs at once, if it’s something you want bad enough it can be accomplished.

This story is refreshing because it reminds me that working in sports media still remains attractive to many people. When you get paid to do a job that you love, and invest everything you have in becoming great at it, there’s no telling how far you can go. But don’t take it from me, hear it instead from Mattie Lou Chandler.

Getting Started Without Experience

mlc2A female, in sports, who has zero experience. Two and a half years ago, that’s what I was. Sitting in the cube farm of corporate finance, miserable. My dad had a rule when I was little, you’ll watch an hour of SportsCenter each day during the summer before he watched My Pretty Pony or something of the sort with me. His reasoning was that it would make me well rounded and I could converse with boys and girls. It’s not only paid dividends, but it spurned my love of sports. Okay, I’d be lying if I said growing up spending Saturdays in Athens, Georgia and witnessing three BCS National Championships while in college didn’t help significantly.

While in college at The University of Alabama, I could never decide what I wanted to major in. It’s a common dilemma for many students, but I couldn’t settle on anything. Attending a school that is so immersed in sports, my parents quite frequently asked, “Why don’t you go into broadcasting and be like Erin Andrews?” I usually came back with some response about every division one school popping out fifty or so EA wannabe’s a semester, and not being interested or “do you realize how pretty she is?” What did I decide on? That would be Finance, General Business, and Computer Science.

clay1So, how did I get to where I am now? Well, insert Outkick the Coverage, Clay Travis, and Twitter. Clay created a now extremely popular website that’s hosted by a major network, but it has a unique component. The Bull Pen, where you can submit articles in the hopes of them getting published. Everyone at Alabama follows and knows Clay. I was a huge fan of his so imagine my surprise when an email from him appeared in my gmail account saying I needed to write the Bachelor recaps for OKTC. Long story short, my best friend submitted our pledge class recaps and well, the rest is history. Except, the Bachelor isn’t sports.

This is where the necessity of social media comes in. To say I have a love hate relationship with it would be the understatement of a lifetime. As Chrissy Teigen put it, “females in sports have the worst mentions in Twitter.” How bad? My first hate tweet is framed in my house. It was like a badge of honor, which is ridiculous, almost like I had gained some credibility. I created my OKTC Twitter towards the end of my first season of The Bachelor recaps. I thought it would instantly take off and I would get a lot of followers quickly, but not so much. You have to be interacting constantly, it’s the nature of the beast. This is how I started to weave in sports to prove that I could offer more than just Bachelor recaps. College Football and golf, are my first loves, so that’s what my Twitter content consists of.

mlc5

Social Media is an incredible tool if you utilize it properly. Not only do you have to constantly be active, but you have to differentiate yourself. It won’t be enough to be a not completely unfortunate looking blonde who knows some fun facts about football and golf. The best advice I got before I walked into my first agency meeting was, “don’t walk in there and say you want to be the next Erin Andrews.” What do you want to do? How do you want to be presented? Whoa. I needed to hear that a week before the meeting, not twenty minutes prior.

mlc8Six months after writing for Clay and Outkick, I met him in person. The internet is a weird place and I have entirely too many “internet friends” that are in the industry that I’ve either never met or have only seen a few times, and we all think it’s normal. I digress, Clay wrote a book called “Dixie Land Delight Tour” where he went to every SEC school in one season. Our meeting was in the summer before the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff and he suggested given my deep experience with tailgating in the SEC that I go on a version of his book and write about it from a female’s perspective. “Wait, you’re going to pay me to tailgate and talk about college football? Is this real?”

This is how I was going to differentiate myself. I wasn’t going to try and talk x’s and o’s, because while I know the basics and have learned a lot, I’m far from an expert. So I don’t try to be. I’m a southern belle, but I’m witty and can be a guy’s girl. It’s the wholesome, girl next door vibe that comes with the sassy side you never saw coming. I realized this would benefit me greatly for the audience I was writing for, but I had to play to my strengths. You have to know your demographic and target audience.

mlcAs I stated before, being a female in this business can be brutal. There are good days and bad days. You’re going to have to work harder than the men sometimes, and that’s okay. I’m sure you’re all thinking, “wait, you just walked into this job with no journalism experience?” Yes, Clay gave me an opportunity to get my foot in the door, BUT while I quit the corporate world, I’ve worked as a nanny for at least forty hours a week. I then go on the road for three days during the season, and am back at the nanny house at 5:30am on Monday’s.

If you want to be in this industry, you have to go all in. You have to send the DMs to the random radio station that followed you to beg for a segment. You have to check Twitter and get your opinion out when your friends are begging you to get off your phone. You have to write a bunch of articles that will never get published, and you have to take the ones that offer to help you and provide you with advice. Poor Todd Fuhrman, I’m sure he regrets ever offering to help me as we now talk daily about different stories and the best way to approach things. Most importantly, you have to want it, or this business will eat you alive.

mlc7I still have much to learn, and I’m just getting started. In two and a half years I’ve gone from writing Bachelor recaps to heading into my third season covering college football for a major network’s website. I appear frequently on radio show’s across the country, have developed a decent social media following, and I’ve had the opportunity to interview for additional opportunities….all while still nannying.

Don’t go into sports journalism for the money. You’ll more than likely be disappointed. To say it’s been an interesting ride would be an incredible understatement, but it’s only the beginning. Don’t worry if you don’t have a journalism degree or don’t think you know enough. Reach out to people in the industry whose work you respect, and the good one’s will be more than happy to help. In most cases, someone did the same for them. All that matters is getting that one opportunity to get your foot in the door, but you have to continuously build off of it.

Mattie-Lou Chandler is a writer and media personality for Outkick The Coverage and Fox Sports. To connect with her or book a future media appearance, follow her on Twitter @MattieLouOKTC or on Instagram @MattieLouC.

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Nobody Looks Good in 670 The Score vs John Schriffen Feud

Nothing makes you look like an insecure bully quite like not being able to take it when you’ve already dished it out.

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A photo of the 670 The Score and John Schriffen

John Schriffen had the unenviable task of replacing Jason Bennetti as the TV voice of the Chicago White Sox. And the reaction from 670 The Score hosts — namely Danny Parkins, Matt Spiegel, and their producer Shane Riordan — hasn’t helped matters.

To call Schriffen’s first six or seven weeks on the job a rough stretch would be an understatement. Not a baseball play-by-play savant, Schriffen has struggled to get into the groove of working an everyday broadcast and has made mistakes that aren’t unexpected.

However, the 670 The Score afternoon show of Parkins & Spiegel was quick to jump on Schriffen’s miscues. In some instances, the criticism was warranted. For instance, Schriffen called former White Sox owner Bill Veeck (pronounced VECK), Bill “Veek.” In a rather innocuous comment, Schriffen showcased his inexperience and lack of knowledge.

But the reaction from 670 The Score hosts quickly went from “criticism” to being borderline ridiculous. They continually ridiculed the relatively green but promising play-by-player, taking any chance they could to take potshots.

While I’m certain the hosts and producer found the quips amusing, they quickly became meanspirited. This is surprising, because Matt Spiegel is a baseball play-by-play voice in his own right, filling in at times on Chicago Cubs broadcasts. There’s an almost unspoken agreement between play-by-play broadcasters that you really don’t critique someone else’s broadcast without that person asking for your input. Everyone is different, and everyone has their own style, but what 670 The Score did went past criticism and turned into questioning the resume and reasoning for why Schriffen was hired in the first place.

Which isn’t their place. I imagine if I were to question why Parkins, Spiegel, or Riordan were hired for the roles they currently hold, they’d have a conniption. And rightfully so, because who the hell am I to say who does and doesn’t deserve this job or that job. But that’s the point.

John Schriffen, however, isn’t innocent in this ordeal. After analyst Gordon Beckham flubbed an ad read during a broadcast last week, instead of just letting sleeping dogs lie, he commented “If any of those radio losers clip it and try to make fun of you, nobody cares about them anyway.”

Before that moment, Schriffen had the upper hand in the feud, because at that point it wasn’t a feud. It was a one-sided, often times mean-spirited approach from 670 The Score. But he needlessly added fuel to the fire.

When somebody wants to pick a fight — and make no bones about it, a fight only benefitted Parkins, Spiegel, and Riordan — you have to avoid the fight, hold in your anger, and walk away/ignore it. And ignoring criticism, even when high-profile people are questioning your credentials, is just something that has to come with being the TV play-by-play voice of a Major League franchise.

Schriffen, no matter how difficult it is, has to take the high road when it comes to media criticism. Nothing, absolutely nothing, good comes from engaging. And frankly, those tearing him down were hoping to do just that, bring them down to their level, where they’d beat him with experience. Part of being a great sports radio host — and despite criticizing them in this story, I think Parkins & Spiegel is the best local show in America — is defending your opinions, and coming out on top no matter what. It’s an avenue Schriffen was never going to win.

I’ve been hesitant to use the word “bully” or “bullying” in this case because I think the word is thrown out all too often in 2024. It’s as if there is no middle ground between “everybody love everybody” and “bullying.” But, after Schriffen’s comments, Shane Riordan went into textbook bully mode. His “If you mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns” response, couldn’t be more bully-esque. Nothing makes you look like an insecure bully quite like not being able to take it when you’ve already dished it out.

Riordan was suspended in 2023 after claiming he’d “bone” the mom of a conservative Chicago talk radio host after speaking poorly of the Windy City. Instead of being somewhat remorseful over the situation, Riordan wore it like a badge of honor in a tweetstorm after Schriffen’s comments, claiming that his response to the White Sox TV voice would lead to another suspension. He later said Schriffen “just opened the f—ing floodgates” and had “no f—ing clue what he has done” by criticizing the station and the afternoon show.

After weeks of criticism, going as far as to say Schriffen “didn’t know baseball”, he called the folks making fun of him “losers”, and that’s the response? After making attacks that could absolutely be viewed as personal, to take being called a “loser” by someone you’ve denigrated for weeks so personally is bizarre. The idea that you’d even care about someone you’ve already un-invited from the cool kids club is truly asinine. Again, if you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.

I’m sure they would deny this, claiming a role as an “equal opportunity offender”, but I can’t help but think that if 670 The Score was the radio flagship of the White Sox, or if Schriffen was the Cubs TV voice, this would have never happened. Boog Sciambi is often lambasted by Cubs fans for his work (and I’ll never understand why), but I can’t remember a time when a Score host took time to criticize his performance.

For what it’s worth, Parkins & Spiegel aren’t the only Chicago media members talking about Schriffen. Jonathan Hood, morning co-host at ESPN 1000 (the flagship of the White Sox) said he didn’t “understand the chip on the shoulder” of Schriffen, adding that “no one is out to get” the new White Sox TV voice. I think it’s pretty clear, however, to see why Schriffen would feel differently.

Nobody wins here. Everyone looks like a loser. Each side is at fault. And instead of being able to take the high road, both sides look like petulant children. It’s a pissing match that no one can win, and no one included in the beef has taken the slightest moment to be introspective, nor retrospective, and think “Maybe I should just be an adult — and a professional — and grow up.”

And while it’s great for content, when it gets personal, it becomes — at least in my opinion– no fun. If there were a clear-cut winner, or someone that deserved to be defended, that would be a different story and a different column. But in this case, it doesn’t feel like either side deserves to be praised for their conduct.

As observers, we often forget the people we see on TV or hear on the radio are real people, with real thoughts, real feelings, and real ambitions. It’s just unfortunate that the people who are often subjected to it the most lost sight of that in this situation, too.

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Netflix Knows Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Jones Bring Eyeballs

The team still draws a crowd.

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A photo of Jerry Jones and a logo for Netflix
Photo: Sports Illustrated

A 10-part series on Jerry Jones here in 2024 feels like roughly eight parts too many. But that is not the Netflix calculation.

No, the math is far simpler: Dallas Cowboys = eyeballs.

It’s been true for as long as most of us can remember – and that particular part about the Cowboys franchise isn’t hype. The team still draws a crowd.

The news in the recent announcement of the 10-parter on Jones, the Cowboys’ owner and general overlord, isn’t that it is being produced. That was known last year. But Netflix’s involvement answers the question about on which platform the project might land.

So get ready for plenty of Jerry Jones, but also Cowboys, Cowboys, Cowboys. And make note of the timeline, because this multi-parter is going to be almost exclusively rooted in a brief, glorious and now quite distant past.

You’ll need to put your 1990s goggles on to recognize the triumphs documented here. It was then that Jones, as a still-young owner by NFL standards, having bought the team in 1989, was the man of record as the Cowboys reeled off three Super Bowl victories in a four-season period.

That is a tremendous accomplishment in any era, and those Cowboys teams were a blast to watch: talented, cocky, demonstrative, controversial. They made news on and off the field, not all to the good. For those of us who wrote about the league in those years, they were a gold mine of source material. And, of course, winning in the NFL is the cologne that masks any little odor that might arise.

Those Dallas teams knew how to win games. How much of that actually had to do with Jerry Jones is a fair question, especially judging by what’s happened since, and I guess we’ll have to wait for Episode 5 or 7 or 9 to find out how this series answers that. But given the fact that the NFL itself insists that the series is “the definitive story of Jerry Jones and his unique journey in transforming the Dallas Cowboys franchise,” we’re already a good ways there.

“For several years, Forbes has ranked the Dallas Cowboys as not only the most valuable team in the NFL, but the most valuable sports team in the world,” the Netflix news release intones. “In 2023, the Cowboys were worth $9 billion and rising — the result of decades of exceptional athletic talent, coaching, and management that took shape during the ’90s, when the once-struggling team transformed into three-time Super Bowl champions.”

As Preston Jones put it in the Dallas Observer, “There are a lot of words doing a lot of heavy lifting in there.”

Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson were certainly the architects of the roster that Johnson coached, but in that time – during those precise years of the Cowboys winning and winning – I can tell you that most of the NFL cognoscente understood Johnson as the driving force and creative genius.

Jones was well aware of that; it was the source of much of the well-publicized friction between those two. They were high-level, high-ego competitors even as they were part of the same multi-championship run – so much so, in fact, that by the time those Cowboys won ring No. 3 in the 1995 season, Jimmy Johnson had already been replaced, with Jones bringing in longtime friend Barry Switzer after functionally running Johnson off the job.

The decision to part with Johnson was more than three decades ago. Coincidentally, the Cowboys’ drought of winning a Super Bowl – or appearing in a Super Bowl, or appearing in an NFC conference championship, for that matter – is now roughly three decades old.

It’s silly to pre-judge the entire series, which includes interviews with many of the leading lights of those ‘90s successes. The list includes Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith, and it also includes Johnson. That alone sounds worth watching.

Of course, you could cover that in an episode or two. But the producers of the series, and now Netflix as distributor, understand the greater value lies in promoting a Cowboys-branded product. Jerry Jones might not like hearing it (or he might not care), but it is a brand whose popularity far, far predates his appearance on the scene.

Brands equal viewers. You watch network baseball, you’re going to get a lot of Yankees and Dodgers. The NBA? Prepare for Celtics, Knicks, Lakers. These are the ratings anchors of large-scale broadcast deals, and in the NFL, the Cowboys are firmly part of the mix.

They may be 5-13 in the playoffs since their last Super Bowl victory back in the ‘90s, but the Dallas Cowboys draw. A 10-part series about Jerry Jones is really just another way of saying, ‘Here’s some more Cowboys material.’ It’ll be consumed.

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Allie LaForce Honored to Have the Best Seat in the House for TNT Sports

“I’m not in the business to break news or to become famous or gain followers – I’m here to cover live sports.”

Derek Futterman

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Allie LaForce
Courtesy: Warner Bros. Discovery

During an NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game on TBS, the broadcast read a promo for upcoming coverage of The Masters on CBS Sports and Paramount+. Rather than keeping the camera on the court though, they panned to sideline reporter Allie LaForce, who was sitting courtside unaware of what was going on and suddenly saw herself on the broadcast monitor. Once she realized that her green jacket tied into the promo, she stood up and portrayed a golf swing for the camera, adding to the overall programmatic value of the promotional read.

For LaForce, it served as an example of reacting to spontaneity and showcasing personality without it coming across as forced or contrived. As a multifaceted reporter in a variety of different roles throughout her sports media career, she has adapted to changing times and handled the dynamic game atmosphere with ingenuity and confidence.

While LaForce is the lead sideline reporter for the NBA on TNT and set to cover the Western Conference Finals, she recently completed another run within March Madness. Assimilating into the grind of this role since joining then-named Turner Sports in 2018, she needed to pace herself and ensure she was aptly prepared. Eight practices in one day followed by a four-game First Four slate in Dayton, Ohio and subsequent drive to the first region is a taxing assignment but one she has mastered through her professionalism and college basketball experience at Ohio University. Although her team fell just short of a tournament berth, the exhilaration and adrenaline therein continues to endure, nonetheless.

“I could sit and watch those college kids get one last shot at the tournament all day long, so it gave me energy more than me having to find the energy,” LaForce said. “It gave me so much natural energy.”

Once her stretch of March Madness games ended, LaForce immediately went back on the road to cover the NBA, commuting to various cities every week and contributing within the broadcasts through live reports, interviews and observation. In her reporting role, LaForce scrupulously watches the action and takes in the environment in an effort to identify and convey key storylines to the viewing audience. Executing the job requires synergy and stamina, perseverance and poise while respecting the game and understanding the inherent commitment to fair and accurate reporting disseminated to viewers.

“I think portraying to the audience the closest reality of being in a moment live and recognizing that it’s an honor and a privilege to be sitting courtside,” LaForce said. “How can we portray that same energy, newsworthiness and accuracy to the viewers through television that I get to witness in person?”

The NBA Playoffs have been accompanied by the backdrop of ongoing media rights negotiations as the league looks to solidify its partners for the 2025-26 season and beyond. The Walt Disney Company and Amazon Prime Video have both reportedly reached the framework of a deal with the league, presumably leaving one remaining rights package being pursued by both Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery. Within the latter, TNT Sports, formerly known as Turner Sports, has been broadcasting NBA games since the 1984-85 season and hopes to extend its multiplatform relationship through a deal that makes sense for all parties involved.

“I think there is a direct correlation and association with TNT and our personalities,” LaForce explained, “and how much fun we have while also calling the moment and the game in a newsworthy fashion that the viewers are comfortable with and look forward to that gets to take their mind off of their everyday grind and just live in a moment of freedom and fun and excitement.”

As a national reporter, LaForce is assigned to a variety of games throughout the season containing different teams, thus requiring a broad knowledge of the league. With the strenuous schedule plus trying to raise a family and run a growing charitable endeavor, it can be difficult to balance everything effectively.

When LaForce was growing up, she watched her mother run a modeling agency in Atlanta, Ga. and fly back home to Ohio every week to spend time with family. Her mother happened to be a previous winner of the Miss Ohio pageant, something she had not told her daughter until she received a letter to participate in the Miss Ohio Teen USA pageant. LaForce initially did not want to compete, but her two victories ended up paying dividends through broadening her worldview and gaining creative inspiration.

“I am on a plane every two days, and I’m trying to be a great wife and a great mom and work full time and present myself in a confident way that people that are viewing me believe in me, and storytell in a way that’s honest and compassionate,” LaForce said. “I think when I was 15 years old, I was trying to take high school classes, play three high school sports, travel the country and present myself and make other young men and women believe in me in a genuine manner.”

While LaForce was in college playing on the basketball team as a walk-on member, she remembers realizing that she would need to eventually give up the sport. Her mother had previously commented on her resonant baritone voice and recommended that she be a broadcaster. LaForce was granted an opportunity to work as an analyst on the radio for her team and took part in a variety of other ventures at the school with WOUB Public Media and volunteering for the Mid-American Conference.

LaForce perceived herself as being restricted because of her role as a sideline reporter, something that changed upon her joining CBS Sports as lead sideline reporter for its broadcasts of SEC football. The endeavor marked the first time she recognized the strategy behind when and how to deliver a live game report, something taught to her by producer Craig Silver.

“There’s a sense of urgency to this game that the audience needs to feel because we’re feeling it here on the field, right?,” LaForce said. “The roar and the clock and the band and the pageantry of the game. It has to be short because there’s a pace and a momentum and a newsworthiness to this game that’s warranted, and your reporting needs to match that.”

Through a cognizance and acceptance of her role as an element of a larger component, LaForce began to find her niche in reporting. On top of that, her background as an athlete allowed her to easily decipher plays, mannerisms and proclivities. The challenge exists in delivering observations and updates precisely and at the correct time. In covering NBA games at the national level since 2018, LaForce has worked to hone her craft and embrace the setting without being buried in patterns of overthinking and inflexibility.

“I used to over plan and take a trillion notes throughout the course of the game, and now I just let myself live in the game,” LaForce said. “And when we get down to the last minute or two, I start jotting down notes about, ‘This guy whispered something to this guy here,’ or, ‘During this free throw, I noticed this,’ or, ‘During a timeout, I felt tension.’”

Although LaForce has refined her in-game process, she still tries to prepare before each contest. Part of that comes in re-reading conversation transcripts with the top eight players on every team and grasping the necessary context. Moreover, she reviews lineups, rotations and other facets of the game she would want to know as a basketball fan.

“I like to take my job seriously but not too seriously,” LaForce said. “I want the viewer to think that I’m hanging out with them watching sports, but also I want to be professional enough to be able to distinguish between just having fun and actually being a reporter.”

Over the course of a typical game, LaForce is doing more than appearing on camera and conveying the latest information. In part because of her vantage point and expertise, she is consistently communicating with those in the broadcast truck and helping to guide the composition of the broadcast. LaForce takes part in production meetings every morning and ultimately has an implicit yet tangible presence on the end product throughout the show.

When LaForce conducts interviews, she tries to begin with a sense of levity to foster a sense of comfort and amicability. Commencing a casual dialogue before these conversations also helps break down a barrier that can sometimes exist because of the nature of the schedule. This is not always possible though, as was evidenced when LaForce was forsaken by the Oklahoma City Thunder after a playoff win to speak with Bally Sports Oklahoma.

“You have to realize that as the national broadcaster, you come in out of nowhere and get the first interview and are asking questions that they perhaps have been being asked for the last week to 10 days from their local broadcast crews,” LaForce said. “They’re there daily and really know them, so you have to remember that the people interviewing them daily understand their career and their team in the moment.”

Working as a reporter requires LaForce to have relationships around the league that are built on trust and respect. No matter the circumstance, she adheres to rules of attribution and does not divulge details that have been classified as being off the record. At the same time, if she develops friendships with team or league entities, she expects them to understand that she needs to do her job professionally and may not always be able to portray them in an auspicious light.

“I’m not in the business to break news or to become famous or gain followers – I’m here to cover live sports,” LaForce said. “And then if there’s something that they don’t say is off the record, but I feel should be, I will figure out a way to tell that story without using that piece of information but use that information to shape the way in which I tell the story.”

LaForce cherishes the balance of professional and personal ventures in her life and aspires to continue covering marquee events, such as the National Championship, Super Bowl and Olympics. Having the chance to experience a wide array of moments in sports is something she knows would be a dream come true, but she is focused on the present moment in closing out the season strong for the NBA on TNT. After all, an essential value proposition of the broadcast is predicated on disseminating insights and developments in real time, part of which is actualized by the work of LaForce and her unrelenting commitment to the grind.

“Be prepared in the beginning to work for free, and always surround yourself [with] people that are helping you become a better version of yourself as a professional and as an individual, even if they tell you things you don’t want to hear,” LaForce said. “But avoid the people that are trying to have influence on you because it makes them feel important or powerful.”

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