Instead of wallowing in my sorrows of being single, I was lucky enough to chat with ESPN's Linda Cohn this past Valentine's Day, which conveniently occurred during her time away from the office.
Most days, Cohn can be found hosting SportsCenter among a variety of other shows. A typical workday at ESPN's Bristol, Connecticut-based studios will vary for her depending on which program assignment she receives.
"For example, if I was doing an 11 o'clock SportsCenter, they'd want me in at 5 p.m,” Cohn explained, “Because we have a meeting where we basically put together the entire show. If it's the 9:00 a.m. SportsCenter, they might only want me in three or four hours early.”
However, there is a universal characteristic among each and every show to which Cohn contributes.
"The bottom line is this," Cohn said. "What makes it all similar is that we write our own stuff. We have no writers. We have nothing like that."
Hours prior to the program, Cohn and her co-workers gather in an area known as the "pod", which she described as a bunch of desks sitting alongside one another. Each of these groups is designated to a particular SportsCenter episode or segment they're covering that day. To prepare, the groups keep track of the day’s events in the sports world via multiple television monitors while they write out their own scripts, an act which bonds the crew as a team.
"You build that team chemistry throughout the night or throughout the morning or throughout the afternoon, whichever show you're doing," said Cohn. "But that's really what the typical day is like."
A 21-year veteran of the world’s most popular sports network, Cohn logs long days and crazy hours. Those precious moments she is not preparing, writing and editing scripts or in front of the cameras, Cohn’s top priorities include spending time with her high-school-aged son and trying to avoid raiding the refrigerator (or on this past February 14th, not overdosing on chocolate). However, she admits it's difficult to be "completely off" from her profession of choice.
"Completely off is probably not going on Twitter, not doing any social media, and not going in [to the studios] and doing anything," explained Cohn, "But I like sports so much that I'll still watch my teams. Like today - I have a day off and I plan to watch my Rangers against the Islanders tonight."
And just because she tweets or watches sports in her free time doesn't necessarily mean that she's "on.”
"That's just me being a fan first, which I always am, first and foremost," Cohn admitted. "I'll always have sports in my life, whether I'm working at ESPN or not."
That's the exact message Cohn wants to convey to her fans and viewers despite the negative stereotypes often associated with women working in the sports media industry.
"People assume all women are actually involved in sports for other reasons than their love and passion for sports," said Cohn. "It may be the case for some that use sports as a vehicle for other things, but it is not a case for all."
Nicole Sorce can be reached on Twitter @nicolesorce.
Photo: ESPN MediaZone
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