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Reporter Sarah Spain Is a Chicago Sports Superfan

ESPN’s Chicago point person, on reshuffled rosters and online trolls

Sarah Spain
Spain, 36, grew up in Lake Forest and lives in River North. This is all her own gear. Photo: Lisa Predko

It’s rare for a reporter to be such an unabashed hometown fan. How do fans respond?

I have season tickets to most of the Chicago teams. I tailgate. It’s worked out very well. There is a lot of authenticity to what I do, and people know I love what I’m talking about.

Between the off-the-ice turmoil and the turnover, is the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup magic gone?

If you didn’t know anything that had happened over the last few years and you just saw the talent and the way the team is run, you’d still think it was in a very good position. I’m not sure I’m ready to say this particular stretch of magic is through.

As for the Bulls, do you think Jimmy Butler will be better off without Derrick Rose?

The chemistry will be helped, because on the court, they just weren’t a fit. Confirming whose team it is can be very important in the NBA, more so than in any other sport, because it’s just five guys out there. Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have said it’s Butler’s team, but we’ll see if that comes to fruition.

You’re very accessible on social media. How did the interaction change after your video #MoreThanMean, which highlighted the abuse female sports reporters take from fans, went viral?

I noticed an incredible outpouring of support. Then there was a backlash—“Why are you complaining? You should find a new job.” People disagree with me on a daily basis, but as soon as I speak about a hot-button issue, like Colin Kaepernick, then it becomes, “I hope you drink bleach and die.”

How do you decide when to call out abuse?

It really depends on my mood. Sometimes I have a larger goal of highlighting something that is consistently happening. Yesterday a police officer on Instagram said I should shut my “cock holster” if I’m not using it correctly. That kind of person should be exposed.

Why is the treatment of women in sports more backward than in other fields?

If the skill you possess is so rare that it’s nearly impossible to replace without a serious drop in talent, people will go out of their way to make excuses for you. You can’t have Aroldis Chapman’s pitches without Chapman [the Cubs fireballer who has been accused of domestic violence], but you can have a Woody Allen movie and never watch him make it.

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