Archive for May, 2012

Journey to the Unknown

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2012 by amylawrencepxp

Over the last month, I’ve spent extra time thinking about women in sports broadcasting, specifically radio. A college student asked for my help with his senior project investigating females in sports media; so I answered a series of questions about how I got into this business, what obstacles I’ve faced along the way, what industry changes I’ve seen, and what can be done to create more opportunities for women. The introspection gave me a chance to look back with gratefulness at how far I’ve come and peak forward at how far I still have to go. There has definitely been progress in the last 15 years, but women in sports radio face an uphill climb that stretches to infinity and beyond. Just last week, a male listener took exception to a word I used in talking about the Thunder-Lakers playoff series. He sent me a tweet to tell me and tagged it by saying, “This is why women shouldn’t be allowed to talk about men’s sports.” While I’m certain his sentiment doesn’t represent every male listener, I’ve received countless messages of similar prejudice during my time in the business.

My ultimate career goal is to earn a job as a radio play-by-play announcer in the NBA (thus the title of my blog). If I happen to be the first female to reach that plateau, so be it. I didn’t set out to be a trailblazer, but it comes with the territory. Play-by-play is dominated by men, more than any other area of sports broadcasting. There are several women who call football and basketball games on TV like Doris Burke, Pam Ward, and Beth Mowins; and Suzyn Waldman serves as the analyst for Yankees’ radio. But in more than a decade of play-by-play, I’ve never once crossed paths with another female handling the same duties on radio. A couple female analysts and a handful of sideline reporters, yes; but play-by-play? No. This past winter, I had the privilege of filling in on a Hartford men’s basketball broadcast. More than 10 years as a play-by-play announcer, and that was my first men’s college game. I recently had a conversation with a company that hires radio talent for college sports broadcasts all over the US. Forty-nine schools with roughly five voices per school, and they don’t have one female voice. Not one! No sideline reporters or analysts and certainly no play-by-play announcers.

As I use this year to seek out new opportunities in this area, I anticipate resistance. As one NBA broadcaster reminds me, some people simply don’t want to hear a woman’s voice calling games on the radio, no matter how talented she is. Others will always see sports as a “man’s world,” no matter how knowledgeable and credible the female sportscaster. To that end, plenty of universities and pro teams see hiring a woman as a risk. Of course, I need experience to be considered a serious candidate for an NBA job, and that means putting more men’s basketball on my resume. That first men’s game in January was a HUGE step forward. While I always believed I could handle the speed of a men’s game, having the audio to prove it is like holding a winning lottery ticket.

There is no timeline…no true precedent…no road map to follow to the NBA. But I’ve come this far, so there’s no turning back. It’s truly a journey into the unknown, accomplished with baby steps. While there’s no way to know when that door will open, I will be ready when it does. All it takes is one team to give me a shot, and I’ll prove that a woman blazing a trail into NBA play-by-play isn’t as risky as it seems.

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My Pal Penny

Posted in Uncategorized on May 16, 2012 by amylawrencepxp

Most nights in my house, we’re all sitting within 10 square feet of each other. Me, Sugar, Ellie, and Penny. Never in my wildest dreams did I think adopting a dog would be such a blessing. Even though I did all the research about the right pet to add to the mix and even though we have a long history of Australian Shepherds in our family, there was no way to be sure if Penny would fit in. Admittedly, I was apprehensive.

People wondered if I’d have time to care for a dog and if I could alter my lifestyle to accommodate a canine that requires a lot of attention. It’s been an adjustment, for sure. But the only thing missing is sleep…not Penny’s, MINE. Ha! Our routine is atypical, but we’ve settled into it. Walks in the morning and evening and some major exercise in the afternoon keep me active, whether I feel like it or not. Penny loves to play fetch and visit new parks and take car rides and chase around in circles at breakneck speed. There isn’t a squirrel in town she hasn’t treed or a neighbor she hasn’t tried to befriend. Of course, there’s no one else outside when we take our 3am walks, and Penny’s not always sure what we’re doing out there. Last week, we literally traipsed up and down the street in the middle of the night for 25 minutes until she figured it out.

This dog gets around. In her short time in New England, she’s been to church; a kids’ birthday party; softball games; countless parks, fields and trails; and Ohio (our first road trip). She’s a great companion, and she makes me laugh constantly, even when I have to towel her off a fourth time on yet another rainy day. When we leave the house, my arms are full of her treats, water, leash, ball, and plastic bags. When we’re home, the interaction among the animals is priceless. One of these days, I’ll have my camera out to capture their nose touches or one of those times when a curious Sugar is creeping within inches of an oblivious Penny. Even when the dog realizes the cats are right next to her, she only wags her tail and tries to sniff them. Now and then, the felines will gang up on Pen, but she takes it all in stride and keeps wagging. This dog must burn half her daily calories by wagging her stump of a tail (Aussies don’t have them) and then her entire back end when she’s REALLY excited.

It’s only been 2 months, and my life now revolves around Penny’s schedule. Who knew I’d sacrifice so much sleep and who knew it would be so hard to leave her when I need to travel? I stress more about house-sitters and dog-walkers than anything I need to pack. I wouldn’t change a thing, though. Love this dog. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

The Price of Going Pro

Posted in Uncategorized on May 5, 2012 by amylawrencepxp

Dreams of being a pro athlete are not limited to little boys. When I was younger, I used to imagine a life playing basketball at the professional level. Don’t ask me how I thought it would work as a female, but when you’re a kid, those details don’t get in the way of a great dream. Fast forward 15 years, knowing NOW what I didn’t know then, I wouldn’t trade places with a professional athlete for all the money Alex Rodriguez has made in his baseball career. Most pro athletes are handsomely paid to play a game, and their lives may look perfect on TV or in magazines. But the money and fame come with their own set of problems.

Easy to start plotting what we’d do with $100 million, isn’t it? Right now, I’m thinking about the mortgage and school loans I could pay off and how I could ensure my family is set for life. There are home improvements, a boat, a trip to Italy, and some charitable organizations I’d like to support. The best part would be seemingly never having to worry about money again. But that’s a smoke-screen. Money doesn’t fix everything; in fact, being rich includes a unique set of challenges. Money is a huge temptation for many, and this world is full of free-loaders and people who think family or friend ties guarantee them a cut. Generous athletes with big hearts, especially those from meager backgrounds, often shell out millions to take care of everyone around them. Or the dollars burn a hole in their pockets, and they go crazy spending like there’s no tomorrow. Incredible how many athletes who earn millions end up broke because of poor choices, poor management, and poor relationships. It’s hard enough to know who to trust in this world, but the rich are a magnet for the greedy and those with less-than-noble intentions.

My friends like to tease me and call me “famous.” Of course, I’m not. It’s only a very small percentage of the people who listen to sports radio that recognize my name. While my Facebook and Twitter bases are growing, they’re nothing like the 2.2 million fans who follow Paul Pierce. I can’t even fathom that kind of notoriety or the lack of privacy that comes with it. I take great pains to protect my privacy by keeping my family anonymous and by hiding as much personal information as possible. I’m also extremely careful with my posts on social media, knowing that once I publish, my words can never be permanently deleted. Again, I’m NOT famous like the pro athletes who have to stay on guard all the time. Everything they say, tweet or post, everywhere they go, everything they do, every mistake they make ends up a matter of public record. They live most of their lives in a fish bowl. Very little remains sacred in today’s culture of smart phones equipped with camera, video, and instant internet access. Google, YouTube, and the 24-hour news cycle make it impossible to fly under the radar as a star athlete.

After hearing about the shocking death of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau this week, I spent time thinking about the pressure on pro athletes. A man known for his wide smile, boundless energy, passion for football, commitment to community, and a successful foundation shot himself to death. The pressure to cultivate, promote, and maintain a reputation with mass appeal must be overwhelming. Pro athletes are deemed heroes to be worshipped and obsessed over. They’re not supposed to have flaws or weaknesses. Maybe that’s why Junior Seau didn’t reach out for help, why he didn’t even tell his family or closest friends that he was struggling. The pressure to perform doesn’t end when a pro athlete retires.

Maybe the adrenaline rush of nailing the game-winning shot or tossing the touchdown pass to win the Super Bowl is unmatched by anything in my life; but I’ll happily take my townhouse in the woods, tiny bank account, and relative anonymity.