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Christine Brennan talks about her new book and women in sports

Christine Brennan

August 9, 2006

By Bernell Hooker

IOU Sports went One on One with USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan on the release of her book Best Seat in the House: A Father, A Daughter, A Journey Through Sports


Christine Brennan, the best-known and most widely read woman sports columnist in the United States, has written the first-ever father-daughter sports memoir by a sports journalist. Best Seat in the House: A Father, A Daughter, A Journey Through Sports, tells the heart-warming story of how one girl turned her love for sports into a trailblazing career, with the guidance and support of her strong and demanding father. Brennan is an author of six books and her work appears regularly in USA Today and she is seen and heard on ABC News, ESPN, NPR and Fox Sports Radio.


Her memoir is about a girl who grew up in Ohio playing sports with the boys on her block, going to games with her father and coming of age just as women's sports were coming of age in this country. Little did she and her father know that her journey through sports would take her from the playing fields of middle America into Super Bowl locker rooms and around the world to the Olympic Games, blazing a ground-breaking trail that has inspired many


Your career has exploded as a sports journalist. Why did you get into this field?
I grew up loving sports; I played many different sports with the boys in the neighborhood, threw a baseball with my Dad when he got home from work, kept score of Toledo Mud Hens games on the radio and went to University of Toledo and Michigan football games with my father and siblings. I also loved writing and started keeping a daily diary when I was 10. As I went into high school, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. After editing the high school newspaper, I went to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and I was off and running. My training and education at Northwestern led to my first job at The Miami Herald as the paper's first full-time female sportswriter in 1981.


What advice can you give other young girls and women who are pursuing a career in sports?
You have so many more opportunities than I did in the 1970s and 1980s, so take advantage of them. When you're in high school, start thinking of what kind of career you might enjoy. In college, get summer internships to gain experience. Work harder than anyone else, always treat people right and follow your dreams. It's really quite simple.


Your new book, Best Seat in the House: A Father, A Daughter, A Journey Through Sports has brought back memories for many girls, women and fathers. How has your father inspired you and how has it affected your opinion on women’s sports today?
My late father told me I could do anything I wanted, and I believed him. Nothing could have sounded more unusual in the mid-1970s than a girl saying she wanted to be a sports journalist, but my father (and mother) were completely supportive of my dreams and goals. Dad always said, "This ain't no dress rehearsal," meaning this is your one chance at life. It's a chapter title in the book and the greatest advice I could ever get.


Young girls do not understand the Herstory of sports and Title IX. What past experience can you share from growing up with sports being inaccessible to girls and how is it relevant today?
I think it's important for girls today to realize that girls like me, born in the late 1950s and early 1960s, never had the chance to play on organized teams until freshman year of high school. I would have been on all the soccer, softball, lacrosse and basketball teams that existed for elementary and junior high girls -- but there were none. It must sound unbelievable now, but it's true. Every neighborhood playing field was full of boys. Even in high school, when I did play on many teams, the boys got all the best practice times in the gym, we had to have our mothers drive us to games because there were no buses for us and the cheerleaders had better uniforms than we ever did. To think how much has changed in one generation due to Title IX is just amazing.


What’s the first word that comes to mind to the following?
Share – Teamwork
Educate – Awareness
Empower – Opportunity

Best Seat in the House was released in May 2006 and Christine is touring the country over the next several months. If you are interested in having Christine come to your community, email Melissa Silverstein at melsil@earthlink.net or for more information visit: http://www.christinebrennan.com/.

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