Now here’s a subject I never expected to write about: the pretty female media personality in sports. I’m going take a swing at this with some apprehension because it’s going to be hard to pull off without seeming a dirty old man. Let’s see if I can do it.
I appreciate the work. Appreciate the hell out of it. There is no way it’s as easy as they make it seem and much respect to them for that.
When I see so many young women performing -let’s face it- a thankless job in a hyper-hyper competitive environment peopled with dozens of willing applicants dying to take their place… well I just think there is a lot more to the story with these women than just a pretty face.
I also think that simply being an attractive presence in the male-dominated setting and to bring a femininity while at the same time enforcing boundaries without offending anyone… this is a skill that I can’t even fathom. I’ve known enough flight attendants to know: it’s hard to be graceful under some of the circumstances our gender can put in front of ‘the pretty girl.’
With that as prelude, let’s review the Cleveland practitioners of this art. I think we have talent here.
In praise of Katie Witham.
I love Katie Witham’s work. I love her cheerful demeanor whether talking to salty old Rick Manning or drunk dudes in the bleachers or an obligatory family-with-small-kids interview. ALWAYS A PRO. I appreciate that she’s pretty to be sure, but guys, that doesn’t just happen. She’s hitting the gym (as all in this piece are). That’s discipline. That’s commitment to the craft.
But mainly, I appreciate the obvious homework and prep that she puts in. When Underwood flips it to her in the first or second inning, she will tell you something useful that she has gleaned from talking to the principal. If Ubaldo has a blister that makes it harder for him to throw a slider tonite… she’s the one who will tell you. USEFUL is the key. Her reports reflect an insight and are relevant. It’s clear to me that she knows the game and likes the game.
I find them all the more remarkable because 80% of the time, she’s pitching a promotion for the Rally Alley or some such. For this, she becomes the object of some scorn on my twitter timeline (not huge, but enough to know my opinion is not held by all). To these guys I just want to say: THAT’S HER JOB. I’ll bet you she’d much rather provide you info on Masterson’s pitch distro after the fifth inning. But HER JOB is to talk about what they tell her to talk about and to do so cheerfully.
Without irony or any need to curry favor I say this: I think Katie can be a good/great play-by-play person if she wants to and is given the chance. She has the requisite intelligence of the game, speaks well, and her energy level is the right amount of enthusiasm without being over the top.
[Sidebar, can I get a level-set? I caught a Tribe game with my son a year or so ago. Tell me if it’s me or if this is true: when she and her camera crew come trucking through your section all heads turn. She seemed much more a force of nature in person than on TV.]
It’s worth noting that she was a varsity soccer player for Capital and does sideline work for the Crew too. And in researching this piece, it seems her dog had ACL surgery last month and you can see that he is bravely sucking it up.
5’11” out of Van Wert, Ohio: Allie Clifton.
After a season’s worth of Cavs TV, I got curious about the back story on new sideline reporter Allie Clifton.
She seemed a little over her skies at first, but as the season went on, I started noticing some insight in her interviews. Like: she seems to know her hoops. She’s asking good questions that relate back to the night’s game and add some insight for the viewer. Am I imagining this or is it real?
It’s real because she knows hoops.
Allie Clifton was three time co-captain for the Toledo Lady Rockets. Five eleven out of Van Wert:
[senior year at Van Wert] Averaged 19.6 points and 12.1 rebounds per game and was named first team All-Ohio (first female athlete in school history to garner all-state honors) … Selected conference Player of the Year … Garnered the Associated Press All-Northwest Ohio basketball teams Player of the Year accolades … Chosen Times Bulletin Player of the Year … McDonald’s Scholar-Athlete recipient as selected by the Lima News.
So.. respect. Toledo was 24-8 her senior year.
As far as the Toledo years, check her stats. Mixed bag.. played forward, nice 48% FG pct., could knock down the 3.. but the only girl player I’ve ever heard of to shoot under 70% on free throws. Hmm. Whatever.. I mainly stand in awe of varsity college athletes because I sure was not.
Career wise, she started as an Education major and shifted to Communications and after graduating got a couple of those grunt, entry, intern-y jobs on Toledo television before scoring the Cavs gig. Again: I just admire the hell out of paying dues and working toward a goal and seeing it pay off. Who knows where it goes from here?
But just in the year she’s been on the Cavs, I’ve seen enough to say she’s got a future. Not for the fluff; because she knows her hoops and is able to communicate the knowledge in a pleasant way.
About the FS Ohio Girls.
Did you wince when FSO announced the Fox Sports Ohio Girls idea? What a cynical bid for page hits? Don Draper thinks this is exploitative of women? Objectify much?
Yes, yes, yes, yes. YES.
And yet… dammit… it’s working for me.
It’s like they’re Fox Force 5 if you remember Mia Wallace’s pilot in Pulp Fiction. Sara is the sassy one; Kristine is glam; Halle is the girl-next-door.
So many questions. Are they like The Monkees.. do they live together? Get along? Is there a feud going on, is that why Kristine is always in Cincy while Sara works more Cleveland? And good-guy Halle is the glue? Or maybe Kristine’s NASCAR stuff makes her more southern Ohio? Does Sara want to be a singer? She did the national anthem at the Q a couple weeks ago.. was she good? I haven’t heard. What’s the career path/trajectory for a FSO Girl? What are the career goals? Who are the top 5 celebrity pigs they’ve encountered? Why hasn’t Zac Jackson lined them up for the Frowns/WFNY Draft Party?
So many questions.
But again, I respect the hell out of someone able to put forward the cheerful demeanor at all times when, we can all be sure, sometimes they’re not feeling it. Well done.