Molly Solomon making history at the Golf Channel is the subject of my latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center site at Indiana.
From the column:
Molly Solomon never was into the notion of role models until she went on a trip to New York this spring.
Last summer, Solomon made history when she was named executive producer for the Golf Channel. The appointment made her the first woman to assume that role for a sports division.
Initially, Solomon downplayed the distinction. She insists she never saw herself as a female sports producer.
“I just wanted to be known as a producer,” she said.
Solomon’s attitude, though, changed a few months ago. During a trip to the Sports Emmy Awards in New York, Solomon visited her former staffers at NBC.
Solomon said she had “an epiphany.”
“I was talking to these young women at NBC Sports,” Solomon said. “They were saying how much I meant to them and how they missed me. It really meant a lot to me.
“Now, I get it. It is important to have role models. To be there and show them that there are no barriers based on gender.”
Solomon on Dick Ebersol and the need to “over perform”:
Looking back on her career, Solomon credits former NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol for always pushing her to do more.
Recently, she thought of Ebersol while reading Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller, “Lean In.”
“Sandberg said (to women), ‘Just raise your hand,’” Solomon said. “If only somebody gave me a copy of that book when I was 22. Girls don’t raise their hands. Dick forced me to raise my hand.”
It wasn’t always easy. She admits being a woman in a male-dominated field might have pushed her to greater heights.
“You do feel like you have to over-perform,” Solomon said. “You don’t want to stop. You have to work even harder. It propels you. You are determined not to fail.”
Solomon on another epiphany:
In 2010, she made a presentation for NBC to the International Olympic Committee.
At the end of the meeting, a woman from the IOC approached and presented her with a scarf.
“I said, ‘What’s this for?’” Solomon said. “She said, ‘I’ve never heard a woman give a major presentation in this room before. I’m very happy about that.’
“Wow. Sometimes you really don’t know. You’re just doing your job. Then you realize how meaningful it is to someone else.”
Also, Solomon’s new job comes with a unique challenge. She is working just down the aisle with her husband, Geoff Russell. The former editor of Golf World now is the Golf Channel’s senior vice-president and executive editor.
“I feel closer to him than ever, but it’s harder than you think,” Solomon said. “We never fight, but we have had some spirited discussions. Our biggest problem is turning it off when we get home. We’re so passionate about the Golf Channel. We have it on all the time. Finally, one night, our daughter said, ‘Can we stop talking about golf.'”