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Jenni Carlson


More from The Q&A: Linda Cohn

by Jenni Carlson Published: November 21, 2008

SportsCenter anchor Linda Cohn loves to laugh.

That quickly became obvious when I sat down to chat with her earlier this week in Norman. She was in town for the Delta Gamma Foundation Lectureship in Values and Ethics, and she answered all sorts of questions. Here are a few that didn’t make it into The Q&A on my Page 2:

Jenni Carlson: You recently released a memoir. Lots of reviews have raved about how honest it was. Any writer’s remorse?

Linda Cohn: How the heck can you write a memoir without writing about the important people in your life, whether it’s your children, whether it’s your ex-husband. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would ever have gotten as far as I did. So, that’s what I don’t get when people say that — “How did you open up your life?” I thought that’s what a memoir was supposed to be.

JC: What are you proudest of that you put out there?

LC: That I’m very human. That I have faults. That I have insecurities. That I had very low self-esteem. It isn’t an easy road out there. You do face a lot of challenges, and I wanted to tell people about it. Now that people have read the book, they have connected with it. They’ve told me. Some have even said it’s been therapeutic to hear my story and it helps them with their respective story.

JC: That has to be fulfilling.

LC: That’s one of the reasons I wrote the book. I felt that a lot of people could relate to it, and I wanted to help some people, too. I wanted to help young people, people like yourself, people younger than you and people older than you that wanted to know more about the business, wanted to know more about being a woman in the business, wanted to hear the truth. And I wanted to give them the truth, that it wasn’t an easy road. Most important to me, I wanted them to know that I’m a sports fan first and foremost and that I didn’t just get this job because I didn’t get a job at “Access Hollywood” or something.

JC: What most helped you endure through all that?

LC: You know what? It’s still a work in progress, but it is not letting the outside interfere with what’s going on on the inside. And what’s going on on the inside is telling yourself, “Remember, Linda, why you’re in this business, why you didn’t leave this business. You love sports. You have a passion for it.” It’s part of my makeup. I really enjoy that roller coaster ride, because even when I’m not doing it or working, I’m watching these games. I enjoy it. It’s a high for me, so what I’ve learned is, remember that.

JC: You’re in the hall of fame at SUNY-Oswego.

LC: The sports hall of fame.

JC: Any more hall of fames on the horizon?

LC: (Laughs.) They keep voting me in! But that one was cool because I saw a couple of my former teammates that I played hockey with in college. That was the first time I played ice hockey with girls.

JC: No kidding?

LC: I’d always played with guys. But then my college,

Oswego State actually had a girls ice hockey team. We played in a rink that had no heat. That’s why we had no fans. But now, they updated the rink. They built this whole new facility for hockey.

JC: So, people were like, “Why don’t the women have any fans?”

LC: Uh, hello.

JC: Is ice hockey still the sport you’re most passionate about?

LC: It is. When you play a sport, you always have that connection, but … probably NFL is second because I could watch any NFL game. You can’t watch just any baseball game, but I do love my Mets, and I do love my G-Men, my Giants. So, I’m doing pretty good right now, not with my Mets, but the Giants are great and right now the Rangers are doing well.

JC: Got a hypothetical — if you were the NHL commissioner, what would you do?

LC: First, I’d put the league back on ESPN. People would see it, then I would heavily promote the personalities of the league. Those players, these are people that carried their own bags when they were 5. They’re not spoiled, so I would promote that. That’s where I would start. You have to get the sport more visible.

JC: What would be your message to women in sports?

LC: Just stay true to yourself. That’s what it’s about. Also, the advice I give to women who want to be in this business is, “Don’t try to be something your not. Don’t try to be the comedian. Don’t try to be the entertainer. You have to concentrate on being accurate.” You get caught up in, “I’ve got to be like this guy” or “This guy’s getting all the attention because he’s doing this; I have to do that.” No, you don’t. You can’t be a phony. Sports fans can pick out phonies.

JC: What about your kids? What is your message to them?

LC: The thing that I’m really most proud of, they don’t see me as “Linda Cohn, SportsCenter anchor.” They don’t get excited about what I’m doing. They see me 110 percent as mom, and that is what I’m most proud of.

JC: A couple rapid-fire questions. Pet peeve?

LC: The so-called experts on TV who are anything but.

JC: Team you’d pay any amount of money to see?

LC: Giants or Rangers in a playoff game.

JC: Best day?

LC: Great day at work, having fun, my team winning, hanging out with my kids.

JC: Worst day?

LC: When people are taking everything so seriously, and I don’t get to see my kids.

JC: Story you’d love to one day lead SportsCenter with?

LC: Why can’t we lead SportsCenter with more good stories? Not the arrests. The good guy.


by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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