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Breaking the Rules

Feb 22, 2022

When I was in college, I was a sports reporter. The big goal was to do play by play in the NFL and eventually own the New York Giants. I gained experience as the sports editor of the college newspaper, working on the sports desk for the city paper and covering sports for the local CBS station on the weekends. It was a football town and I was the only woman around at the press conferences, in the press boxes, on staff.

My presence interrupted the way things had always been. I was supported by some, tolerated at best by others, harassed by a few. Most days I didn’t let it get to me, but I did enter all situations with my game face on ready to battle, stand my ground, demand to be heard. It required showing up every single day without a roadmap and doing what seemed like the next best step. Action, fumble, adapt, repeat.

I didn’t wait for people to tell me I could do something or ask for permission. I showed up, wrote what I saw and focused on amplifying voices and talent that weren’t being featured. One time the city paper flew me out to an away football game. It was a tight timeline - fly out in the morning, get the story, fly back and have it written before deadline. This was before laptops, cell phones and wi-fi were widespread. There was a small window to collect coach and player responses between the end of the game and when I had to be back on the plane.

At home games there was a general area the team went to after the game to meet family and the press. As the away team, they didn’t have an area, just the locker room. Being the only female, I asked an assistant coach if would go get the coach to answer a few questions. No one came. I asked a reporter walking out of the locker room if he’d get a coach or player to come out to provide comments on the game. No one came out, so I went in. People were angry, confused, and confrontational but I got what I needed for the story. I blocked out the objections and comments, did what I needed to meet the expectation of delivering a complete story.

There are locker room moments in every day. You have choice on whether to enter.

  • You can wait until what you want/need is brought to you, or you can go get it.
  • You can decide to play within the rules or realize rules are merely guidelines.
  • You can make excuses why it’s not possible, or you can just get after it until it becomes possible.

Don’t let a little doubt or ridicule stop you from going after what you want or need. Not everyone is going to agree with you or champion you so you might as well stay true to who you are and the vision you have set for yourself.

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