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?
By Brian Clapp | March 18, 2015
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