Why Charissa Thompson’s comments on sideline reporting are so damaging

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All the action on Charissa Thompson’s comments on the latest episode of the “Pardon My Take” podcast. – how Fox Sports and the NFL on Prime Video host said that during her time as a sideline reporter in the late 2000s, she made halftime reports – Laura Okmin’s reaction really surprised me.

First, Okmin works for Fox Sports, as does Thompson, and the truth is that it’s always dangerous to criticize your partner. Second, Okmin runs boot camps, workshops and training for women who work in sports (and who want to work in sports one day) as part of GALvanize, an organization she created in 2012. The NFL part of the reports is her work; GALvanize is his passion.

“The opportunity to be on the team is to be the one person in the world who has the opportunity to ask the coaches what is happening at the time,” wrote Okmin on X, formerly Twitter. “I can’t explain how much time it takes to build trust. I’m upset about the post I’m asking if it’s okay. No. No.

He continued.

“Using it as an opportunity to teach young journalists: There are coaches who don’t give anything – not even an apology at the beginning of the week,” said Okmin. “You gather information from those conversations and take with you – ‘he wanted this, he hoped he didn’t see it.’ My point is, PREPARE for these events.”

Okmin was responding to these comments on Thompson’s side reports on “Pardon My Take”:

“I have said this before, so I was not fired for saying it, but I will say it again.” I made a report sometimes, because… the teacher didn’t come last time, or the time was running out and I didn’t want to disturb the report. So I said, ‘I’ll just do this.’ First of all, no coach is going to get mad when I say, ‘Yeah, we’ve got to stop hurting ourselves, we’ve got to be better on third down, we’ve got to stop turning the ball over … and do a better job of getting it. outside the field.’ They don’t correct me on that. So I say, ‘that’s fine, I’ll just make a report.’

On Thursday night I had a long chat with Okmin about the comments. I asked him what made him speak his mind publicly, especially as an employee of Fox Sports.

“My phone started ringing like crazy,” Okmin said. “I started looking at all the GALvanize groups over the years, and they were all posting this picture and asking each other, ‘Is this okay? Do you do this? I’m not judging.’ So I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. Then I watch a clip. There’s all these girls trying to learn how to do this properly and they see someone who’s staring at them saying it’s okay to do this and laughing. I wasn’t thinking about me or my friends. We’re used to it. Me and Pam (Oliver) we’ve been texting each other all day. We’re used to people questioning our worth and disrespecting us. I don’t think it affects us that much anymore. But I went into security and started reaching out to all the teams (at GALvanize) and said this is not good. It’s unacceptable.

“If this had happened 10 years ago, I would have kept quiet,” Okmin said. “But I feel that I have a responsibility here as someone who tries to empower women and (try to) help them find and use their voice. I have to use mine. So I ask, ‘Is this something that needs to be said? Should I be offended if I say this?’ In this regard, I felt it necessary to say something.

“I didn’t learn to use my voice until I was 40 years old. So when I see women in their 20s and 30s writing their feelings on the television about this issue, I would never have done that. The wave of women standing up for each other is bigger than I’ve seen in 30-plus years. And it’s not against Charissa, strange as it may sound. Yes, I’m very critical of her or anyone doing this, but I’ve known Charissa for a long time. I hate crimes against women and women, I was very disappointed. “

Okmin was not alone. ESPN reporter Molly McGrath used his social media share clear comments on such behaviors. CBS Sports reporter Tracy Wolfson and Pro Football Hall of Fame reporter Andrea Kremer he spoke. So is ESPN Lisa Salters. There were many other considerations as well lover answers.

Where his comments are most damaging, as Okmin pointed out, is that many sports watchers still view 2023’s media as frivolous or cynical. I’ve interviewed a lot of sideline journalists over the years, including producers and directors who work with them, and the people who watch it don’t know how important they are to radio. What you see from the media on the air is only a fraction of what the broadcasters provide before, during and after the game. They are on the back talk with the car making all the games. They provide eyes on the field. In production meetings with players and coaches, they often suggest solutions that turn into pictures or on-air stories. That information is almost always unknown to them. It is an accepted practice that if the television is benefited by information, everyone looks better.

Laura Okmin questions new Raiders coach Antonio Pierce after a game earlier this month. “This is not good. It’s unacceptable,” he said of the idea of ​​side reporting. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

That is the damage that can be done from these comments. I have had many conversations with Thompson and correspond with him professionally, and he is a real person as far as I can see. He is well-liked by his colleagues at Fox Sports and Amazon, a professional and talented person who shares the microphone well with others. Like many guests on that podcast, I think you can get caught up in pushing the envelope. He mentioned a similar story on his podcast about two years ago. There’s nothing I can do to apologize for what he’s done or say it rashly, although I think it doesn’t really help to punish him later.

A spokesperson for Amazon’s NFL on Prime Video declined to comment. Fox Sports also declined to comment.

Okmin said he spent much of Thursday talking to women in the business, and spoke to many sideline reporters. He and McGrath exchanged text messages, and Okmin said he told McGrath that he would not have used his words at McGrath’s age. Okmin also reached out to Thompson after the broadcast and said he didn’t do it earlier because Thompson had his regular job on “Thursday Night Football” last night.

“I regret not reaching Charissa before I sent her,” Okmin said. “This may not mean anything later. But I will say about Fox they always understand how I feel about GALvanize and talking about issues related to women in sports. They know that I have a lot of women that I mentor and a lot of women that I try to help. They have never come in that way with me in 12 years of GALvanize. .

“The hardest thing about this is you don’t want to be woman against woman,” Okmin said. “It’s a sad thing because Charissa is pregnant right now, and I’m hurting her a lot. But I’m talking about the position. Our head is on the other side. reporter, and it is important for every journalist, up and coming or current, to understand what comes with that definition. I’ve had phone calls today asking if this is common, and I have to assure them it’s not – and the conversation backfires. It’s very competitive to get here and hard to stay here, but the better you do, the longer you live. Building faith. Building relationships. It’s the difference between a sweet gig and a job. I just want every girl and man who wants to do this job to understand that this is not the way to go.”

I come from the whole thing feeling bad for journalists like Okmin, Oliver, Wolfson and others who are living the job and have to deal with the fallout. Sadly, I can guarantee that some of the comments in this article will be the same old side-splitting nonsense.

It’s embarrassing – and untrue.

(Top photo: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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