Why Erin Andrews Currently Rules Sports Media

When you finally see Erin Andrews up close, in person, you realize why she has become the most popular talent in sports media today. ↵

↵And it has nothing to do with sex appeal -- in fact, it is the opposite of objectification or putting her on a pedestal: It is how accessible she is. ↵

↵

↵It is ironic I say that, given that I didn't actually get a chance to interview Andrews personally at last night's launch party for EA NCAA Football 2010, a new video game in which she is an on-screen star. But even the reason why I didn't talk with her seemed to support my theory. ↵

↵

↵About an hour into the event, EA -- the reporter, not the game company -- had just run a gauntlet of on-camera interviews. I tracked her around the room: She was continuously perky (but not TOO perky), but entirely genuine. She was enjoying herself and making every interviewer feel like they were in on the good time. ↵

↵

↵She had just finished her on-camera interviews -- unbeknownst to her, there was a row of fairly nebbishy-looking writers (is there any other kind?), mostly there to talk with the players, but certainly not averse to talking with her. This was me. We were next. ↵

↵

↵EA was making her way past me, when I overheard her ask a PR handler something to the effect of: "Wow, I'm starved. Can I get something to eat?" And that just about sums it up: There is no weird eating disorder or diva-ish behavior, just someone who wants a couple pieces of comped sushi or a pig-in-a-blanket app or something. ↵

↵

↵She headed upstairs. I didn't see her for a while. I left the event without getting the chance to ask her about it. But watching her at the event confirmed what I had thought when I watched her on TV: She was down-to-earth and completely comfortable with herself. ↵

↵

↵That is the secret of why Erin Andrews has become the biggest star at ESPN. ↵

↵

↵She is what Max Kellerman might have become. She is what Stephen A. Smith desperately wanted to be. And she is still on her way up, in a way that Chris Berman -- or even Dan Patrick -- cannot be, by virtue of where they are in their careers, where she is in hers and where we are as fans. ↵

↵

↵She has achieved superstardom and the popularity (not to mention ubiquity) that comes with it: ↵

↵

↵-- She is the top sideline reporter for college football, college basketball and baseball. ↵

↵

↵-- She is the perennial prom queen of Sports Blog High School, with a nickname befitting her Web 2.0 ascent: "Erin Pageviews." ↵

↵

↵-- She is the star of a video game, including some still-secret game mode in NCAAFB10 that will surely have bloggers taking prurient guesses. ↵

↵

↵(I only had a few questions for her: The biggest -- was she on Twitter? If not ... why not? She could probably top Ashton Kutcher's million followers in a couple of weeks.) ↵

↵

↵-- And tomorrow will be the crowning achievement: She will be the Green Room reporter for ESPN's NFL Draft coverage, the signature annual event for the network. ↵

↵

↵If she wanted one, EA could surely have a daily TV show on ESPN. She could be sports media's Rachael Ray -- I don't say that to typecast her by gender; I say that to mean she could handle multiple shows -- say, a daily talk show and a taped show of her traveling around the country -- and unlimited brand extensions. ↵

↵

↵But why? ↵

↵

↵Watching EA in action, up close, all that talk about how "hot" she is becomes something quite different. You don't want to date her; you want to watch a game with her. She seems. .. fun! Nice! In short: She is accessible. ↵

↵

↵She loves sports and, yes, she's attractive. That combo may catalyze some long-standing fantasy for young male sports fans, but let's be clear -- the appeal is in that order: Sports fan first. ↵

↵

↵Too many sports media types think it is all about displaying their overwhelming personality, the sound of their own voice -- not realizing it is as off-putting as it is allegedly "brand-building." ↵

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↵As a sideline reporter -- and, now, as a video game feature and NFL Draft fixture -- EA staked out a seat right in the middle of the action. Next to the players and coaches, for sure, but equally important, next to the fans; she straddles the two worlds. High Visibility + Open Personality = Accessibility and, ultimately, Popularity. ↵

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↵Sports media reflects the direction of the rest of the world: We have moved away from top-down, I-know-best shouting and moved into a world of connections, of "friending" and "following." And we want to connect with people who we genuinely like -- or who we THINK we would like. That's Erin. ↵

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↵She has become king (or queen) of sports media because she has made herself accessible on the arena sideline, in your living room, even in virtual reality. The biggest day of her career awaits tomorrow. Beyond that, even bigger things. ↵

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↵Not because she has sex appeal. But because she is accessible. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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