Christine Brennan is the latest entry in Still No Cheering in the Press Box, an on-going project by the Povich Center for Sports Journalism at Maryland. This is the modern version of Jerome Holtzman’s classic, No Cheering in the Press Box.
My long-time friend and Hootie Johnson tormentor tells the story of her interesting and impressive career. Worth a read, especially for young women journalists trying to make it in the business.
Also, the story is worth checking just to see a picture of young Brennan with also young Rick Reilly and Gene Wojciechowski, who had an impressive head of hair.
A couple of excerpts:
I loved sports, I played sports and played them well. Even though there were no organized teams until my freshman year of high school, I went on and played six sports in high school and could not get enough of it.
While I had this great sports background, I was also a news junkie. I couldn’t wait to read the sports section of the several papers we had delivered to our house. Before the internet, grabbing the sports section was your first look into a game from the previous night. I just loved the news.
I liked writing. I loved the news. I loved sports. Yet, I really thought I’d become a political reporter because, looking back on it now, there were no role models for me of women in sports media. I didn’t see a woman sports byline until I got to Northwestern. I never saw a woman on TV doing sports until I saw Phyllis George, Miss America 1971, on NFL Today in 1975. Phyllis is wonderful, but If you had to be Miss America to be on TV, that was not going to be my career path.
I went to Northwestern wanting to be a journalist and thinking I would be a political writer. Then I did see a woman writing sports at the Daily Northwestern and I started to think maybe this was possible. I had a summer internship after my sophomore year of college and then another after my junior year in the sports department. I started to see that I could do this. I had a couple other internships involved with sports and it felt like I was home.
I was very fortunate to have parents that instilled in me great confidence from a young age. I am not sure where that came from, but its amazing how parents do these things. I just kind of showed up at the Miami Herald and there was not one ounce of me that was nervous or worried or concerned. I did have to go into my first men’s lockerroom, the Minnesota Vikings in 1980, and I was like ‘I’m doing this.’ I look back now and I am like ‘wow.’ I was 22 years old and I just wasn’t flinching.
I was a bit oblivious, I think, in a good way. Maybe a bit naive, but I was just like ‘of course I am doing this.’ I think back now on the hardships and the concern of ‘is a woman’s really going to cover the Florida Gators?’ or being the first woman to cover NFL football for The Washington Post. Those things really hit me as an older person looking back, but I was just going headlong into this, I was made for this.