NBC Sports Philadelphia host Amy Fadool visited Rowan University to speak on her journey and experiences as a woman in sports media during this week’s “Pizza With the Pros.”
Students gathered at Bozorth Hall to hear Fadool discuss her illustrious career. Fadool’s personality shined throughout the evening, even when she elaborated on serious topics like workplace discrimination.
Although she is a Virginia native, Fadool laid her sports media footprint in Lexington, Ky. where she attended the University of Kentucky.
In 2005, Fadool found herself on the bottom of the totem pole at her local news network. As expected, she was assigned smaller stories like high school basketball matchups.
Fadool never shied away from a challenge. She detailed a moment where she had a chance to cover a local basketball prospect’s college decision. What was setting up to be a pleasant coming up story for Fadool, ended up being an example of the unfortunate truths surrounding workplace inequality for women in sports media.
As quick as Fadool offered to cover the story in place for the lead reporter, her bosses denied it.
“They treated me as a girl, not a woman,” Fadool said.
For no reason other than the personal opinion of a woman covering sports, they continued to decline her persistent pleas. Understanding that this was all but a fight or flight moment, Fadool took action. Grabbing any equipment necessary, she stormed out of the room and covered the story without anyone’s approval.
When she returned to the studio Fadool’s bosses and male counterparts did not say good job, but they didn’t say she did a bad job either. She recalled making light of the gloomy reaction.
Fadool marks this moment as when she developed thick skin, understanding that she would need it if she wanted to further her career in the male-dominated industry. As the years went by, she reported for networks in Nashville and Baltimore.
Fadool opened up about her advice for female students looking to work in the field. She emphasized the importance of speaking up to someone, even if it’s your boss’ boss.
Fadool remembered a project she had to completed in school, where she was tasked to research a profession of interest. At first, due to her natural ability to debate, her mother offered the idea of being a lawyer. After a quick search in the encyclopedia, and the realization that it would take more than seven years of schooling, she turned that idea down.
The moment Fadool saw it was possible to “stay up late and watch sports for a living,” she was determined to do so.
When brainstorming the project idea with her mother, she was met with reasonable concern about the lack of women in prominent sports media roles at the time.
“If you are not working for a goal, you are working against it,” is a quote from Fadool’s father that has aided her through the sexist stereotypes of the industry.
Fadool went out of her way to mention how the fans of the University of Kentucky basketball share the same passion as the fans of her exclusive top three sports cities: Philly, Boston, and Chicago. They were all possibilities to her because each of them have fans that not only follow their teams consistently but, “are obsessed with them.”
Fadool is a huge fan of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team, and follows their success any chance she can, albeit being the host of 76ers pre and post-game broadcasts.
Noting her Wildcats fandom, it was brought up how the 76ers currently have a former cat on the team. Guard Tyrese Maxey played one year in Lexington before being drafted by the Sixers in 2020. Fadool, who is tasked to do draft profiles for the best prospects in each draft, had compiled one for Maxey. She predicted Maxey’s elite shot creation despite his numbers being solid, not shiny, in his freshman season.
“I look like a genius,” she said, jokingly, claiming that the man responsible for drafting Maxey, 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey, reads all of her work religiously. Maxey’s recent play has been phenomenal, keeping the team competitive despite the top starters contracting COVID-19. Fadool spoke highly of Kentucky Coach John Calipari’s developmental strategies.
Recollecting on her most memorable player interactions, Philadelphia legend Charles Barkley was crowned her “most fascinating” person. To join Barkley on her personal Mount Rushmore, she had spent multiple weeks with both Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. throughout her career. Although meeting legendary figures in sports is unfathomable, Fadool made it clear that the recognition and fame is not why she got into sports media at all.
“I like to be in-the-know. I like to talk. And I love sports,” Fadool said, discussing how this is the root of her passion for her profession. She warned students to not go into a sports media job for the money, and instead enjoy the fun of it as much as you can.
Perhaps the most lasting moment of Fadool’s visit came from a Rowan student who is a three-time cancer survivor. This student asked her about her connection to “Coaches versus Cancer.” Before she went into her response, she called on Neil Hartman, sports communication department director and his contributions to the foundation before she got heavily involved. Having worked with Hartman at NBC Sports Philadelphia, she was able to discuss how meaningful it was to not only the patients who are diagnosed with the awful disease, but to the reporter himself.
Fadool’s mother passed away due to cancer, and ever since, Fadool has connected to “Coaches versus Cancer” and the American Cancer Society to help raise over $18 million in the Philadelphia area.
To Fadool, her contributions to these foundations are “touchstones” that help her gain a sense of reality in a rewarding vocation. She concluded her discussion by pushing students to volunteer for charity or community service at least once, as it has a big chance of changing their perspective for the better.
Pizza with the Pros returns next Monday, Nov. 22, when Philadelphia Inquirer’s Mike Sielski will speak to students about his position as a top sports columnist in the country.
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