A Week in the Life of a Sideline Reporter for the NFL on Fox

sideline reporter laura okmin nfl on fox brian urlacher

Building relationships is a big part of being a successful sports reporter according to Fox’s Laura Okmin

For the NFL on Fox’s Laura Okmin, one of the true joys of being a journalist comes from the relationships with players and coaches that develop over years, not weeks.

“A player I’ve covered for years gave me a great compliment recently saying he appreciates that of the ten times I reach out to him, I’ll ask for something I need only one time,” Okmin explained. “That’s always been important to me. I reach out often with no agenda and I think that’s so important if you’re truly building relationships, not just “sources’.”

These relationships have made all the difference in her ability to relay information from the sidelines to the audience, which has made her a mainstay of the NFL on Fox and Dial Global Radio network.

The veteran sports journalist explained what a week as a sideline reporter during the NFL season is really like:

Monday through Wednesday – Research and Preparation

Okmin:  I work Thursday night games for Dial Global Radio and Sunday games for FOX so I’m on the road Wednesday through Sunday.  But that doesn’t mean Monday through Wednesday are off-days.

During the season, it’s a 7-day a week job, so early in the week I’m focused on these tasks:

  • Calling players and coaches related to the Thursday game
  • Researching game releases on both teams
  • Watching both teams games from the previous week
  • Reading local newspapers; beat reporters often have the most detailed information about the team they cover since they are there daily.

Wednesday – Travel and More Preparation

I travel to my Thursday night game on Wednesday while finishing my prep. I always work on the airplane, it’s important to use the time you have.

Thursday – Game Day #1

I usually arrive at the stadium three hours before game time, and start interacting with the players before the fun part, working the game.

A sideline reporter has the greatest seats in the house. The game producer is counting on your eyes to tell him what only you may see.  You’re part of a team. Expectations are high.

An audience may never see how much you’re actually doing, so you need to be okay with that. That’s really important because it can get frustrating when you’re not able to share so many things you know or see on the field.

Tip for being a Sports Reporter from Laura Okmin: BE YOURSELF. It’s always wonderful and important to watch other broadcasters, but make sure you don’t try to emulate anyone. What sets you part is…you. I love putting on a tape of someone and seeing something I haven’t before and that only happens when you’re being authentic to who you are, on camera, and in life. 

Friday – Another Travel Day, but an Active one

I fly first thing Friday morning to wherever my FOX game is, but it’s not a time for relaxing, it’s work time. It’s only 2 days to kickoff, which goes by very fast, so I spend my time on the plane beginning my prep for my second game of the week.

After landing I go straight to practice where I join up with the play-by-play announcer and game analyst. Friday is when we get our time with the head coach, coordinators and players of the home team, which, depending on the team, can be extremely insightful.

Saturday – Visiting Team

We, the play-by-play announcer, analyst and I, go to the hotel and go through the same routine with the visiting team – head coach, coordinators, players.

Tip for interviewing from Laura Okmin: Listen. Stop thinking about what your next question is going to be and listen to what their answer is, that’s when an interview stops and a conversation happens.  

That night we meet up with the game producer and rest of the production team to collaborate on story lines, graphics and production.

Sunday – Game Day #2, Best day of the Week

nfl sideline reporter laura okmin day in the life

A sideline reporter may only get 2-4 minutes of air time during a game, but there is a lot of work being done you never see

On Sunday, we get to the stadium at 10 am for a 1 pm kick off.

I’ll go straight to the field where I can check in with players and coaches during pre-game warm ups. It’s my favorite part of the job. I have some of the most entertaining conversations during those three hours before the game; some of it related to football, some of it has nothing to do with football.

It’s the most relaxed guys are all week long.

By kickoff, you know so much information, on and off the record, about the game you’re watching and yet, the game always dictates what your day is going to be.

When it’s a fantastic, close, dramatic game you’re only going down to the field for injury updates, or something pivotal to the game, which means you may get very little air time. But that doesn’t mean a sideline reporter isn’t working.

I’m constantly going sideline-to-sideline listening to conversations, watching substitutions and situations that I may have a chance to report on. Many times, the information I gather is relayed to the producer who then gets it to the play-by-play announcer or analyst in the booth to deliver.

My job is to get the information and be ready to deliver it, but sometimes it’s just to get the information and relay it.

The fact is, there are games you may have six hits, and others you may have two. But the most important thing is that your producer knows you are ready to give them whatever they need during the entire game, whether they come to you or not and whether you report on it or the guys in the booth do.

It takes a little more to be a sideline reporter than you thought doesn’t it?

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

And if you want to know where our privacy policy is before you submit your comments below, it's right here.

Comments

  1. Who is Laura Okmin? I’m sorry I’ve never seen her before. Tell what Erin Andrews and now Chrissa Thompson are going to be doing for FoxSports1 this August. Will they be on the sidelines for Fox this year? They are both very beautiful and they both can talk sports with the best of them.

    • Thanks for commenting Jarrett – Laura Okmin has been with the NFL on Fox for about 6 years, prior to that she worked NBA sidelines for TNT, CNN/Sports Illustrated and SportsChannel Chicago, she also does all of the Thursday night NFL games on radio for Dial Global. She’s legitimately one of the best football reporters in the business, she knows the game better than most and is a GREAT interviewer. I’m not sure what roles Erin Andrews or Charissa Thompson will have at Fox Sports1 but I’ll ask around some of my sources and see if I can find out!

      • Jarrett says:

        Thanks Brian.

        • No problem Jarrett – Laura was teamed up with Brian Billick and Thom Brennaman the last few years. Broadcasting teams tend to have regions they cover so that they become more familiar to a certain team and really get to know them well… this team just may have never been in your area of the country and that is why you didn’t know her. -brian

      • Is it different for a writer? How do you get into those companies as a writer? Im always looking at their websites

    • Umm you don’t know who Laura Okmin is? And Erin Andrews and Charissa Thompson aren’t the best reporters out there, they just happen to be very well known. When you start talking Suzy Kolber and Lisa Salters then we’re talking best sideline reporters.

      • Winter – I’d throw Doris Burke in there as well, she’s a damn good sideline reporter. I’ve worked with many sports reporters over my career, I can honestly say Laura Okmin is one of the best, even if she’s less heralded …and she’s a great person too.

  2. How much do sideline reporters make? How many sideline reporters are there covering the NFL? It must be a very competitive business to get into. Great insight. Go BILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL’s.

    • Bobby – great question, like in any industry it varies based on experience. You’ll often see fresh faces start out on the sidelines who may have just a one year deal, they wouldn’t make all that much. The networks often test out people on short deals and see who sticks.

      The veterans in the business…that’s another story, they do quite well for themselves, but they’ve earned it and worked hard at honing their craft and building relationships with players. That makes all the difference, gaining the trust of the athletes, which takes time and wisdom. – Brian

  3. Elizabeth Milne says:

    Thank you

    • Your welcome Elizabeth – keep commenting and coming back, and if you have any ideas you’d like us to research, investigate and write about just let me know! bclapp at workinsports.com

      – Brian

  4. Tiana Flores says:

    Very interesting article! How did Laura Okmin get to where she is now (career wise)? I started watching football at a young age and I’ve always wanted to be a sideline sports reporter. Now that I’m going to be a senior in college, I’m not sure exactly what I want to do. I just know I want to be in the sports entertainment industry. So I’m just curious to know what her journey was like.

    • Tiana – you are in luck, I have a full interview with her I’m going to be posting soon which will outline her entire career and her advice for anyone coming up in the industry. I didn’t post it yet because I didn’t want too much Laura Okmin at one time 😉 …but trust me, it’s awesome. She’s a good friend of mine, we worked together for 7 years, I was her ‘personal’ producer on CNN Sports for 2 of those. Keep reading the site, and ask any questions you have, I’m always willing to help – Brian at workinsports.com

  5. Nancy Ward says:

    Great article and very true! I’m a reporter and anchor in news AND sports and I definitely know the prep that goes into doing sports. My goal is to become a sideline reporter and I love seeing great female sportscasters out there!

    • Nancy – glad you enjoyed the article. Laura is a great person to learn from, a true professional, she and I worked together for many years. Tell me a little more about you, what station are you at currently? – Brian

  6. Hi Brian, great article. I have a question for you, I’ve been working in the sport business for the last seven years as a camera operator but its been more on the high school and college level, I did some NFL work but it was for my local news department that I work for. I would like to know how do I get into the field of working with company such as Foxs, ESPN, NBC or CBS as shooter or even as a PA. I do have experience working in the production truck, I’m just trying to find away to get in, any advice would help. Thank you.

    • Tony – glad you enjoyed the article, couple of thoughts for you. 1: If you want to work live events, the way to achieve that is through a local crewing company. ESPN, Fox Sports etc, hire local crews to do all their event production. Let me know what state you are in, or where you want to work, and I can send you local crewing information. If you want to work for one of the networks as a photog or PA, check our site often, we post those types of jobs all the time. With your experience I’m sure you’ll be able to break in, just have your resume and demo reel ready to roll! – brian

  7. Hayes S Johnson says:

    Yes hello is their any other way to get started in the broadcast industry besides sending tapes I know that’s a great way but I was thinking is there another way.I attended Connecticut School of Broadcasting would that be enough or should I take some college courses. I am just looking for some advice so thanks for reading my story and I look forward to hearing your advice. Have a great day!!

    • Hayes – as a former news director who hired on-air staff the only way I would learn about potential hires was either A: by receiving their demo reel or B: Having a broadcasting agent contact me and inform me about their clients – to which I would say ‘ok, send me their reel’. I would not advise someone just getting started to send get an agent, agents are mostly for more established on-air talent that need to concern themselves with contracts, publicity, marketing etc. For someone getting their first job, their contract negotiation will go something like this “here is your offer, take it or I’ll hire the person on the demo reel below you” – you don’t need an agent for that. As for other ideas, I’ve had people just show up in my office lobby, and to be honest that would annoy the crap out of me. We set up a process for hiring for a reason, because we’re busy and we want to stay organized. I had someone show up in my office having driven three hours and I felt obligated to make time for them – which made me frustrated because I had other things to do at that time. They did not get considered despite their “efforts”. If you have ideas you want to run by me I can tell you if they are worth it… – Brian

      • As for schooling Hayes – that’s hard for me to answer without knowing what you learned while at CSB. My suggestion to EVERYONE who wants to work on air is to get your foot in the door as a production assistant at a network or local station and keep refining your craft. Talk with anchors, reporters, news directors (all while doing your PA job to the best of your ability). Once you have your foot in the door of the industry, growing and improving gets easier. You still are pursuing your dream of being on air, but you’re improving your industry knowledge experience and network while you do it. I’ve had 5 different PA’s I’ve hired go on to become very successful reporters/anchors. – Brian

  8. I really want to become a NFL journalist and I’m not sure how to go about it. I’m still in high school and I don’t know where to start! So Erin could you give me some advice!
    Thank you so much!!

  9. Can you help me i was wondering about all the pros and cons of being a sports reporter

  10. Shehzad Ali says:

    Is it possible for a guy to be a sideline reporter? And does anyone have advice to someone who wants to become a sideline reporter?

Trackbacks

  1. […] Goals are something you can’t give up on, no matter how hard it gets to see the finish line, “The biggest piece of advice I can give is the biggest cliche there is – don’t give up,” says NFL on Fox Sideline Reporter Laura Okmin. […]

  2. […] A Week in the Life of a Sideline Reporter […]

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