After graduating from Fenwick in the mid-90s, Chicago sports journalist Maggie Hendricks has gone on to do amazing work for publications like Yahoo! Sports, The Athletic, theScore and USA Today. She won a Gracie Award for the show she co-hosts called The Julie and Maggie Show and has interviewed some of the greatest athletes of all-time (Simone Biles, Cal Ripken Jr. and Shaquille O’Neal to name a few).
In this episode, Hendricks details how the sports writing industry has changed since she started off in the early 2000s and how the boom of the internet helped jumpstart her sports writing career. She also goes into why she feels it is her responsibility to report on social issues in sports and how she deals with sexism in a male-dominated industry.
Here are the highlights from the episode:
On covering the Olympics and making sports writing a career …
“I think that part of it of, ‘Oh, I can make a career out of it,’ was definitely the Yahoo Sports thing because it was the Beijing Olympics. It was the first Olympics that Yahoo was even trying to do this Olympic sports blog. and they had zero expectations.
“We were being paid fairly for how young and inexperienced we all were, but I don’t think they were investing that much money or time or anything into it. They just kind of wanted to see how it would go.
“I remember the first time we got our metrics back and saw how many people were reading us, and I was starting to get like messages from friends from high school. They were like, ‘I just clicked on a story on the Yahoo front page, and it was you wrote it.’
“I think there was a little bit during that where I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I could do this for a living.'”
On one of the most memorable events she covered …
“I think the biggest moment I had where I was like,’ Oh my gosh, I’m witnessing history’ was the first women’s UFC event which was in Anaheim.
“It was Ronda Rousey versus Liz Carmouche and I had covered the UFC for four years, I think. For UFC fight events, it’s not just the fight. There’s a whole fight week and they have open workouts, press conferences, weigh-ins and all kinds of different events that’re crazy.
“All week at the events, all the women that cover MMA, there weren’t a ton of us but the group of us, just kept squeezing each other’s hands and saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’
“I will always remember that moment of standing up at the Staples Center as Ronda Rousey is walking out and you’re hearing ‘Bad Reputation’ as her fight music while playing and the entire place is going insane. And it’s super loud. And it’s all for a woman.
“And I think that is the moment where I thought, ‘I cannot believe I get to cover this and write about this’ because this is that was special.”
On comparing Simone Biles to Michael Jordan …
“She is one of a kind. Here’s the big thing that she and Michael Jordan have in common: There was not a whole lot that could push Michael Jordan more than Michael Jordan could. He had to continually push himself. So even when he was the best player in the game, he was still coming up with new ways to become an even better player.
“Simone is the same way. Simone had debuted a new dismount from the balance beam that was so difficult that the Gymnastics Federation decided not to give it the score it really deserved, because they didn’t want to encourage other people to try it. They were afraid that they would get hurt.
“Simone pushes herself in ways that I can’t even imagine like … I can’t even comprehend it. No one is near her. Nobody is nipping at her heels. Nobody at all. But she continues to push and innovate the sport because she can. [She does it for] no other reason than that.”