Originally featured in the June 2008 issue of AVIDGOLFER Magazine. As told to Robert Rodriguez.
Television station directors, want to increase your Nielsen ratings among men?
Simple – hire a hot, female reporter who also knows her stuff.
It’s worked for ESPN, CNN and all the other cable networks. And even our local newscasts have some eye candy that captures men’s attention and, more importantly, keeps them on that channel.
Perhaps the best-known female reporter right now is ESPN’s Erin Andrews. Her presence alone creates a frenzy, no matter if it’s a college gymnasium or Yankee Stadium. Yet, to go along with her gorgeous looks, she also provides excellent commentary that adds something to the telecast.
Thankfully for sports fans in the Metroplex, Fox Sports Southwest also has someone that perfectly blends beauty with insightful reporting. Meet Emily Jones, an FSN Southwest anchor/reporter since 2004. If there’s a regional telecast involving Texas high schools, the Big XII or a home game for the area’s professional sports teams, chances are Jones is there reporting from the sidelines. For the past two years, she’s been everywhere from Manhattan, Kan., to Austin, gracing the sidelines. Jones also hosts Big XII Showcase on FSN Southwest, and has worked in other capacities with the network.
Like covering the Rangers, which she is doing this year. Jones reports from the Ballpark at Arlington at all 81 home games. And she can be seen on the Rangers Insider show. No wonder the boys of summer are playing better baseball this year.
We caught up with Jones during one of her off-days to talk about her Red Raiders, the Erin Andrews phenomenon and Tiger Woods chasing tail.
Emily Jones: College football is my favorite sport. And it’s my favorite sport to cover. My Texas Tech Red Raiders could be a top-10 team next season. And that’s kind of frightening because my little Red Raiders don’t tend to play well in the favorite role, but they thrive as an underdog. I’m excited about their team and what [head football coach] Mike Leach has done with the program.
Game 6 of the Dallas Stars-San Jose Sharks playoff series might have been the most incredible sporting event I have ever covered. I was there to do the interviews, and if they had clinched we were able to go on the ice since we were the rights holders. So I went down there [to ice level] with five minutes to go in regulation, and stood there overtime after overtime after overtime. It was physically exhausting because it was so tense. I can only imagine what it’s like to play in a game like that. It was unbelievable.
When I’m on the sidelines reporting, there’s a lot the crowd can do to throw you off your game. People are making strange gestures and what not. I’ve had one marriage proposal on a poster, but I think that was a shameless ploy to get on television. And it worked, of course. Everyone is looking to get on TV.
I think [ESPN sideline reporter] Erin Andrews is great. I think she’s fantastic and good at what she does. I’ve met her a couple of times and she’s been nothing but gracious and nice to me. There are so few of us [female reporters] in this boys’ club that I try to support as many women as I possibly can, especially if they are doing a great job. I applaud Erin. Anyone whose popularity has grown – and is doing it the right way – I think it’s great for women in this industry, period. She’s done a fantastic job.
My job is something I’ve always wanted to do. And it’s crazy weird that I’m actually doing it, especially here. I grew up in Plainview, Texas and went to Texas Tech, so to be able to come to Dallas and cover the teams that I’ve loved is great. My dad raised my sister and I, so growing up instead of playing with Barbies we would curl up with our dad and watch Cowboys football. That’s where my love of sports started. I saw Nolan Ryan yesterday and I told my dad that Nolan waved to me first. I was so excited that he saw me down the hall and waved at me. That was a big deal to me. And the first time I interviewed Troy Aikman I was so nervous because he was one of those guys I watched growing up and made me love sports. It’s been super cool to not only do my job, but to do it here in the Metroplex.
I was on the freshman golf ‘B’ team at Plainview, and my dad was so excited that I was playing golf he bought me Ping Eye 2 orange dot irons, a Big Bertha driver and a beautiful baby blue golf bag. I played in one golf tournament and I was terrible and miserable. I told him that I was never playing golf again, and he told me he was selling the clubs. I didn’t care at the time, but now I would kill to have those Ping Eye 2 orange dots. With this job you get offers to play in golf tournaments all the time. So I have to play with some hand-me-downs.
I don’t play enough golf to be mad about how bad I am, but I do like playing and I wish I could play more. I play in these scrambles, and while they are fun, you don’t get to really work on your game. I’m hoping in the next couple of years to free up some more time to get better at my own game. But the way that I’m wired right now, I almost need an excuse to go out and play. It’s the same reason why I don’t watch many movies because two hours is a long time to be sitting at one place and not do anything productive.
Colonial is my favorite golf course. I also enjoyed Dallas National, Cowboys, Trophy Club is very nice and I got to play one of Barton Creek’s Fazio Courses a couple years ago. There are some beautiful courses down there [in Austin]. I’m playing the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, which I’m super excited about. Colonial is my favorite, but Dallas National is beautiful to look at; it’s unbelievable and so terribly difficult.
The best part about my job: it doesn’t get monotonous. There’s always another game, another season, new players, etc. Because I have ADD (self-diagnosed), this job keeps me on my toes because there’s always something new.
The worst part about my job: the schedule. At times it can be tricky. There’s an unknown to it. For example, I was supposed to be off one Sunday. Well, that’s when it was Game 6 of the Stars-Sharks series. So there’s work on the weekends and nights. That’s one of the few drawbacks, but nothing to really complain about.
I try to take my lunch every day. I just don’t want to weigh 800 pounds by eating ballpark food or press meals all the time. And I have very little self-control when you open me up to a buffet-style, all-you-can-eat meal. So I figured to avoid that, I should not pay for the buffet and take my lunch to the ballpark whenever possible.
I’m training for my second sprint triathlon, so a lot of my free time is going for that. The swimming is hard, yet it’s not that far. And the running is hard because it’s at the end. But the swimming, people think 300 meters is not that far to swim since it’s less than the length of a track. But just try to swim that and see; it’s hard.
I’m also addicted to reality television. If reality TV is on, I’m watching it. I think I’m the only person alive that’s still watching “The Bachelor.” I’m a reality television junkie.
When you’re a woman in this business you have to have thick skin. I know this sounds cheesy, but I’m very sensitive. But you can’t show that in this field; you can’t let your guard down. I realize that when I’m walking in the locker rooms or their clubhouses, that’s the players’ workplace. Yes, their leagues mandate that, but I try to be respectful of their workplace. Like the whole [Chicago White Sox] blow-up doll thing. If they were doing grotesque things or putting the doll in bad positions, then maybe that’s an eyebrow-raising thing. But that’s not offensive; it’s a blow-up doll. A lot of these athletes are kids, and we all revert back to that at some point. Now if someone said something derogative or offended me personally, that’s the only thing I can get mad about. But you just have to pick your battles. If you cry foul every time you get fouled, it’s going to start falling on deaf ears. And most of them are not worth fighting; it’s not that big of a deal. It’s a field where you have to overcome some obstacles; if you’re not prepared to do that, then you shouldn’t get into this.
I did a story on Tiger Woods when I was in Lubbock, and I said something about Tiger chasing tail. My guy friends always said that, so I didn’t think it was offensive. I thought it meant he was a girl-chaser. After I made the chasing tail comment, there was phone call after phone call to the station. This one man called and was like, ‘I feel like you’re my daughter and I can’t believe you would say something like that. We have so much respect for you and we’ve watched you for so long. We are so disappointed.’ I was shocked because I didn’t think I was being offensive, which made it worse. I felt so bad.
I listen to sports radio all the time. Sometimes with The Ticket, I say to myself, “What am I listening to?” But I listen to the Ticket all the time. I used to listen to The Ticket when I would visit Dallas, so I’m a big fan of that radio station. Anytime they invite me on, I’m so excited to do it. Beside “The Bachelor” I think I’m one of the few people around who watches “First Take” on ESPN. So when I’m getting ready, I watch “Mike and Mike” in the morning and then “First Take.” Then when I get in the car, I turn it on to The Ticket. Every once in awhile I’ll turn it on to [ESPN radio’s Randy] Galloway just because I like him so much.
My girlfriends just laugh at my love for sports. Before, they used to get annoyed by it. I’ll have girlfriends who will get married during football season, and I’ll tell them that I have to check my schedule to see if I’m working that weekend. Now, they just roll their eyes and laugh. They know sports is part of my personality. Some of them are inquisitive and want to learn. And I have a lot of girlfriends who are also sports fans. There’s a part of them that wants to know what their husbands, boyfriends or guy friends are talking about.
A perfect date doesn’t have to include a professional sporting event, but it’s such a huge treat for me to go to one as a fan because it doesn’t happen too often. When I do get to go as a fan, I like to go all out – tailgate, eat a burger, cheer. It’s not a must, though.
I never thought I would root for Texas or A&M, but I do because I’m a fan of the Big XII. I root for every Big XII team whenever they play a big game or a non-conference event. And [Texas football coach] Mack Brown is one of my favorite coaches. It’s fun to broaden my horizons and not just root for one team.
I pride myself by saying that I’ve never bought something for myself at Neiman Marcus. I hate shopping. If I need something then I will go shopping, and I will stockpile. And I’m a huge bargain shopper.
Everyone thinks I’m every guy’s dream because I know sports, but sometimes, I think I’m every guy’s nightmare. There are some guys who think they want a woman who knows about sports, but they really don’t. Guys want to keep it separate; they want their women to know about girls stuff and not dabble into their sports business. Luckily, I found a guy who likes a girl that knows about sports.