Thursday, June 18, 2009

INTERVIEW SERIES - Q & A with Sarah Spain

I had the privilege to interview Sarah Spain recently, and I got to say, it was an awesome experience! Even though Sarah is busy and traveling all over the place right now, she was nice enough to take some time out of her busy day to do this interview. I am also new to this whole interviewing thing, but Sarah was a great sport.

For those of you who don't know who Sarah is, or want to find out a little bit more about her, you can check out her website here. But, if you are a Chicago Sports fan, or even a blogger out there, you definitely know who Sarah Spain is. Or you should at least!

For you Chicago Sports fans, Sarah is from Mouthpiece Sports. MPS is definitely my favorite Chicago Sports Website to check out on a daily basis, so I have been a fan of Sarah's for a while now.

For you bloggers out there, Sarah was just a panelist at the Blogs with Balls event in NYC this past weekend. And from everything I read about the event, it seems like it was a success. There were a ton of big time names there, like SI's Jimmy Traina, and it would have been awesome to goto and network. I wish I could have gone, but Lumbergh and Initech would have fired me if I skipped work for the Event, so I couldn't make it.

Anyways, I will stop talking now, here is our Q & A...

VC: Being Chicago Sports fans, I'm sure most of my readers already know who you are, especially from the EBay Superbowl Tickets story , but I wanted to ask a you more about that. Tell us the truth, who came up with that idea? And if it was you, was this just a ploy to get actual tickets to the game, or to get free publicity, or both?

SS: While few people believe me, I can honestly say that I had no idea what I was setting into motion when I put the e-Bay ad up. About 5 minutes after the Bears beat the Saints, I went online and bought a flight to Miami--I figured I could get tickets, lodging, etc. with my friends who had agreed to head down to the game if the Bears made it. Unfortunately, they all bailed. I was on my own and needed to find a way to either raise the $4,000 (or more) for a ticket or win one somehow. After seeing "Screech" make a website to have fans help pay off his mortgage, I thought maybe I could make a "help me go to the Super Bowl" website and try to get people to donate a dollar each or something. Unfortunately, I didn't know html, nor did I know how to promote a site like than in the span of 3 or 4 days. So I was at work a few days later talking to my boss at Fox Sports about how much I wanted to go the game and I mentioned the website idea. He said "Why don't you just go on e-Bay instead?" I'd never used e-Bay and I thought maybe I could just tell a couple local radio stations about it and see if they'd give me a ticket through a contest or something. I put the ad up at 11pm and the next morning I had over 500 emails in my inbox. That's when I realized that I'd gotten myself into something way bigger than I thought. If you look at the wording I made it clear that I was NOT an escort--that it was just a "date" and nothing more. I told people I didn't want to be bought--so they shouldn't "bid"--I had no "buy it now" price so no one could claim to have won, and the day the auction ended was after the game. Clearly I didn't intend to actually go to the game with a stranger. While some people thought I truly wanted to be "bought" by someone or that I thought I somehow deserved to have someone PAY to take me to the game, the truth was, I was just hoping some company with a box would have an extra unclaimed ticket or, like I said, that the e-Bay stunt would just lead to a radio station giving me a ticket or something. When Axe's PR company, Edelman, called me up offering tickets for me and two girlfriends and a lucky guy to be our "date," it was so beyond any dream I could have imagined. When all the TV, newspaper, radio, etc. people started emailing me for interviews, I began to realize that I had a unique opportunity on my hands and it was something that, despite being unintentional, shouldn't be wasted.

VC: Tell us a little bit more about that experience you had there and the people you met. How was that experience, and what was your best memory from being there?

SS: If the Bears had won I can honestly say that would have been the greatest weekend of my life (at the time--I've had a few good ones since). I had never experienced real VIP treatment before, so it was just mind-blowing to go from hopeless and ticketless to getting private cars, free flight, free room at the Hard Rock Casino, open bar tabs and, of course, four tickets in the endzone that were over $4,000 apiece. My two girlfriends helped me sort through the emails of all the guys that wrote in to be our "date" to the game and we eventually picked a great guy, Alan. He was perfect--fun, social, comfortable with us, gentlemanly and, most importantly, as overjoyed as we were with every little thing about the trip. The highlight was definitely when Devin Hester ran back the opening kick-off into our endzone. It literally felt like my head was going to explode we were going so crazy. Singing "Bear Down" with Tommie Harris outside radio row was pretty cool, too.

VC: Now I personally know you more from the work you do on Mouthpiece Sports. I'm a huge fan of your work there. You know you have every Sports fans dream job right? How did you get that opportunity there, and all these other opportunities in the Sports World listed on your resume? Is this something you always wanted to do, or did you just happen to run into this industry?

SS: I've always been a sports girl, but I think the idea of working in sports was something that came much later for me. There weren't a ton of female role models when I was young that seemed to fit my personality. I was more interested in taking Greg Kinnear's job as the host of Talk Soup or joining the cast of SNL when I was younger. I knew I wanted to make people laugh, use my brain and do something I loved. When I first moved to Los Angeles I wasn't really sure how one goes about getting into hosting and acting. It was something I'd always wanted to do, but had trouble doing full time because of sports (theater was also at the same time as athletics). The more acting I did, the more I realized that hosting and reporting was more my style. I was an English major at Cornell and always had aspirations of writing and creating content, not just performing scripts someone else wrote. I took a job at Fox Sports Net working for The Final Score, a nightly highlight show, and realized that, for the most part, the people in the sports world thought a lot more like me than the people in the entertainment industry. As soon as I started focusing on sports reporting things started to click--I knew it was for me. The unintentional career boost I got from the Super Bowl publicity was just the thing I needed to put me in front of the right people. I saved all the contacts I got from doing radio, tv, newspapers, etc. and followed up with them (still do) to ensure that they understood my passion for the industry. By doing freelance writing for a few blogs, hosting a Fantasy Football show online and guesting on a variety of radio shows, I let my work speak for itself and ended up at I knew I wanted to move home, so it was one of many places I interviewed on a trip back to Chicago and it was the right time to come back and get started writing and reporting full time. Haven't looked back since (except maybe a few times in the winter when I had to resist the siren song of the LA beaches).

VC: What is some advice you would give to our readers, or even someone like myself who wants to get into the industry?

SS: Find your voice and use it. Don't try to be someone else. Network your face off. Work harder than you think is necessary and never think you're too big-time, busy or talented to do jobs, interviews or favors for free--those may be the very opportunities that get you your big break. I did a ton of free freelance work and never blow someone off if they ask me for advice or email me for tips on getting into the industry. And, as cliche as it sounds, don't step on anyone on the way up, you'll surely see them on your way down.

VC: What is the coolest event or place you have gotten to go because of your job?

SS: Wow. Tough one. I'd have to say the Super Bowl last year, just because it was my first one with credentials to work Media Day and Radio Row and, having worked in the industry for several years by then, I knew tons of people and felt like I was really a part of it all. The staggering number of great interviews I got to do and people I got to meet was awesome.

VC: Any horror stories from being on the job? Any haters?

SS: Too many to tell. The focus for me is to continue to be creative, smart, original and passionate enough to prove those who criticize me wrong. Part of being in the public eye is accepting that you can't please everyone. Part of being a woman in a male-dominated field is learning to find a way past the barriers that are constantly being put up. I thought I could avoid the stereotypical issues that face women in sports, but I'm learning with each day that that's impossible. The only answer is to be so talented and so valuable that the important people in the industry can't tell you no.

VC: Is being in the sports world and what you do right now ultimately what you want to do, or are you looking to get into acting/ modeling/ or any other field instead?

SS: I love to combine sports with humor. I'm happiest when I'm doing funny features with the athletes, writing sketches or helping bring out players' personalities. I hope to continue to do that, especially since there aren't many in the field with that focus.

VC: Who are your role models, male or female?

SS: Michael Jordan, my parents, Kenny Mayne, Chelsea Handler and John Oliver of The Daily Show.

VC: From your resume, you seem like you were a huge athlete in your HS and college days. What sport were you the best at? What was your favorite sport to play?

SS: Tough one. I was recruited for field hockey, basketball and track, and loved them all. I would say basketball was my favorite to play but track was simpler--be the best as throwing, jumping and running and you'll succeed. It was easier to be recruited for and, in college, it was easier to balance track and schoolwork because it was mainly individual, so I'm glad I made the choice I did. Love to play pick-up ball now though.

VC: The Hawks and the Bulls have awesome young teams/ players. Do you see them making great strides next year and contending for titles?

SS: One of the most exciting things in recent years for Chicagoans has been how many young athletes have emerged as leaders. In the last two seasons Patrick Kane, Matt Forte, Derrick Rose, Kris Versteeg and Geovany Soto have all won or been nominated for Rookie of the Year in their respective sports. If the teams can put (or in some cases keep) enough talent around these young superstars Chicago should enjoy a very exciting next couple years.

VC: The Bears got Jay Cutler this year, and there is a lot of hype surrounding this team. How do you think they will do, and have you had a chance to get out to their OTA's?

SS: I tend to be a hopeful supporter (typical Cubs fan) so I'm praying the hype is warranted. Devin Hester should be a much more dangerous receiver with Cutler in the pocket, but his go routes aren't going to be enough to carry an offense. Matt Forte will have to continue to dominate on the ground and one of the under performing Bears receivers will need to make a big improvement. Haven't gotten out to an OTA because I've been so focused on the Hawks and Cubs, but I'm looking forward to getting out there soon.

VC: I know you are a huge Cubs fan. What do you think about the Cubs squad this year? As usual, is this the year?

SS: Oh man, I have to be honest and say last year took a lot out of me. My only hope (here comes that lovable loser streak again) is that the hardships and injuries now make the team stronger. They seemed invincible last year and that obviously didn't work out, so maybe the year they win it all is more fitting for a Cubs team--long, tough and a total surprise.

VC: What is your everday routine?

SS: Ha. No everyday routine at all. My schedule depends on whether I have a shoot that day--be it a home Cubs game, an interview with a player, a red carpet event. If I don't have a shoot I'm likely at the office writing, pushing out content or researching for upcoming stories. When I get some free time I like to get out and try new restaurants and bars in Chicago--I was living in LA for six years so I'm just starting to re-learn the city.

VC: Lastly, to switch it up a little bit, what albums are on replay in your ipod right now?

SS: I like all kinds of music so it depends on the day. Recently it's been a lot of Counting Crows, Thomas Dybdahl, Kings of Leon, Martin Sexton, The Kin and Common.

Thank so much for your time Sarah, we hope to check back in with you soon!

Also, if you haven't already, check out a couple of Sarah's videos below....

Funny + Sports...

Sarah at last year's Super Bowl...

Hope you guys liked this interview. Please chime in with some comments! Take care...


Anonymous said...


Matt Clapp said...

Great interview Vik. Sarah's terrific.

Michael Castillo said...

Awesome job! Really great interview.

Mani said...

Great interview, keep em coming.

Anonymous said...

We are so proud of you