This coming Sunday, ESPN will celebrate a milestone no other anchor has achieved in the history of their company when Linda Cohn hosts her 5,000th SportsCenter show. Linda was kind enough to join Helmets and Heels to talk about her career and achieving this record breaking milestone.
‘Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.’
This quote from Martin Luther King Jr. had been read over and over again throughout her life before Linda Cohn decides to make a tough decision.
Perhaps it’s fate this quote would drive the veteran SportsCenter anchor throughout her life who admits from an early age, she was far from the opinionated sports anchor you see every weekend on ESPN.
Cohn, who joined an all boys hockey team at the age of 14, recalls getting strange looks from moms who would see a ponytail sticking out the back of a hockey goalie mask while saying, ‘Who is this girl with the ponytail playing goalie against my 8-year-old son?”
To combat the strange looks she would receive, Cohn said she had to develop a thick skin which proved useful when her coach marched into the nearly-empty girl’s locker room to let her know she earned the job as starting goalie for the team.
Her first response? “I won’t let you down.”
It’s this phrase coupled with MLK’s quote that has led Cohn to embark on her record breaking 5,000 SportsCenter shows—a feat no other anchor at the network has ever accomplished.
“I didn’t even realize it was my 5000th show until my boss told me,” said Cohn.
“I was always on this journey to prove to people that I belonged, that I could do the job and I can add value. Sports gave me such a passion and as a kid I asked myself, ‘What could I do to make money to feel that kind of passion?’ And broadcasting ended up being a perfect fit.”
In her early days, Cohn was used to being the only girl on the team but credits her fandom for being a key aspect of why she’s resonated for so long.
“It’s well documented I’m a New York sports fan. Not all New York teams, obviously, because I frown upon this, but no one is a Yankees and Mets fan. Or a Rangers and Islanders fan. Giants and Jets and so forth. But I have learned from over the years working for a national network like ESPN that you can find that [fan+work] balance,” said Cohn. She continued, “It’s important to show off your personality because the people that watch or listen to you and have your attention are sports fans. So you want to let them know you’re one of them and not a fraud. This is what I always preach that I’m a fan first.”
As someone who has worked in the male dominated sports industry for 23 years, Cohn has been at the forefront of seeing more women becoming accepted. But she also admits as a society, we’re not there yet in terms of acceptance but offers a bit of advice to women looking to break into the industry:
“Just don’t give up and keep doing what you’re doing. I know it sounds cliche but block out the noise. Don’t worry that you have to be something for somebody or fit into a box when you’re not meant to fit into a box. You’re meant to be outside the box.”
“If you’re in college, get involved with everything you can even if you don’t get paid to do it. Once you leave college, use what you have, put it on the resume and get some internships. Don’t do this for the money because you’re not gonna get money for who knows how long and who knows how much you’re gonna get. Remember why you’re doing it is because you love sports,” said Cohn.
There was so much more to Cohn’s interview with us including her time doing play-by-play in the WNBA, if Cam Newton’s decision not to dive on a fumble during the Super Bowl was soft and what she’d like to pursue after her days in the anchor chair are over. All of it starts around the 35-minutes mark of the show below.
And be sure to catch Linda Cohn’s record 5,000th SportsCenter show this Sunday, February 21st at 8am EST.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SHOW
Intro– Peyton Manning- will his reputation survive?
12:28– Ronda Rousey and her recent suicide revelations
27:03– Studs and Duds of the week
35:11– Our interview with Linda Cohn
55:34– What it’s like to get cut in the NFL
01:07:05– Blake Bortles reads negative comments about himself on the Dan Patrick Show. Could you do the same?
Featured image via Allen Kee / ESPN Images.