The young sports broadcaster talks about building her career and credibility
By David Rosenfeld
If the job doesn’t exist, broadcast sports journalist Lindsay McCormick has learned to create it. That can be easier said than done, that is, unless you are on an eight-year winning streak like McCormick has been on lately with her career, most recently as the NFL Social Host for Sunday Night Football on NBC and live stage host for the Super Bowl.
When a role in the movie The Bounce Back, coming out this summer starring Shemar Moore and Bill Bellamy, opened up for a television host, McCormick came to Los Angeles for what was supposed to be a two-week stint. She ended up staying permanently. The smart, hardworking McCormick is now working on a new sports entertainment program for IMG Worldwide with fellow female sports journalist Michelle Joy Phelps, who is developing the project.
“So many shows out there in terms of sports are informative. I want to do something a little bit different,” said McCormick during a recent interview at her home in West LA. “The line between sports and entertainment is getting more and more blurry. You see professional athletes on the Kardashians. Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco have their own reality shows now. So the line between sports and entertainment is kind of non-existent these days. My ideal show would be something that embodies both but still has the sports aspect to it.”
Sports broadcast journalist Lindsay McCormick. Photo by Westside People
Phelps, who reports on boxing and runs the website BehindTheGloves.com, met McCormick through a mutual acquaintance in public relations. Since they were each in different sports and traveling so much, the two rarely met up in person, staying in-touch instead through phone calls and social media. When Phelps started developing the show concept, she said McCormick was the first person she envisioned as a co-host.
“The one thing that’s always captivated me about Lindsay is how endearing and appreciative she is,” said Phelps in a phone interview from Las Vegas. “She started to realize quite early on how it works. I respect also how true to herself she is. That’s something that’s so precious and unique. Her smile is not fake at all.”
Growing up in Houston, Texas as the granddaughter of a former collegiate and pro defensive end in a family obsessed with sports, McCormick said she had a solid foundation for understanding the game of football. Her only sibling, a brother, formerly worked for NASCAR, as well as her grandfather.
As a young girl McCormick was an avid dancer, entering competition for the first time at age seven. Following college she competed in ballroom dancing after the football season until finally she had to make a choice. Figuring there was a more promising career in journalism, she dropped dancing. Proving her credibility as a female sports journalist, however, would require hard work and dedication. So for the first years of her career she established herself by writing for magazines and working radio call-in shows.
“You can’t say a woman doesn’t know the game if she’s on the radio taking callers and answering people’s difficult questions,” she said. “Especially as a blond in the industry and a younger female I knew I was going to be stereotyped so I came up with a game plan right off the bat to avoid that.”
McCormick got her first big break as a 20-year-old intern at ESPN Sportscenter where she honed her craft among the best in the business. From there she worked as a reporter and host for Comcast Sportsnet and the Portland Trailblazers. On her first day, it was basically sink or swim with her boss throwing her into a live television interview with little background. There was the producer talking in her ear, fans screaming on the sidelines, all the while she’s trying to listen to the answer given and come up with a follow up question. She said she learned the art of thinking on her feet and battling distractions.
“It took a few tries to really get used to that,” she said.
During our interview, McCormick’s sense of humor comes out through a broad smile and a hearty laugh. She clearly does not take herself too seriously. She joked about not having much of a social life. She says she probably has sacrificed relationships over the years to pursue her career. For the entire NFL season she lived on a tour bus with the Sunday Night Football team made up of entirely men. She only got to return home to her apartment in New York once during the entire five-month season.
“I learned really well how to nap on a couch,” she joked. “It didn’t feel very glamorous.”
Working in a male-dominated industry certainly has its obvious challenges for an attractive female broadcaster. She had to build her credibility early on probably more than her male counterparts. And there continues to be those who question why any woman should be involved in sports at all.
“The toughest part is working with the athletes,” she said. “It’s an advantage and a disadvantage. I’d be naïve to think I haven’t gotten a lot of interviews because I’m a woman. At the same time, I’ve had a player go to a team publicist for my phone number.”
Like McCormick, Michelle Phelps has sacrificed aspects of her personal life to pursue her career as a boxing journalist. Her show with McCormick will begin shooting later this year.
“If we didn’t love our jobs so much, we would have gone into something else a long time ago,” Phelps said. “That’s what a lot of people fail to realize. Each of us could have been married by now. I hope that the longevity of our careers will show how serious we are about what we do.”
It’s only been a few months since McCormick has set up permanent residence in Los Angeles. Staying in one place is not something she’s all that used to.