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Women’s History Month Interview Series: Betting on Alicia Jessop? Take the Over.

Alicia Jessop is the founder of

This past year, while working on various assignments for Double G Sports, I have been blessed to meet many amazing women.  Some of the amazing women I’ve talked with include Billie Jean King, Michelle Kwan, and Angela Ruggiero about the contribution women have and continue to make in the world of sports. This past week, as part of a ‘Double G Sports’ project that honors Women in History, I was asked and I was equally blessed to speak with Alicia Jessop.

Alicia Jessop is the founder of  She is also a professor at the University of Miami, and has written for several notable publications, including Forbes, and Huffington Post.  Her alternative blog, provides her reflective writing where she describes her journey into the sports world, which involved introspective analysis and a belief in her own ability, to make it in what many consider to be a man’s world.

What follows are highlights from my interview with Alicia, which took place over the telephone this past Wednesday, bright and early.




Michelle SportsX: Good morning.  So excited to talk with you this morning as I’ve enjoyed reading your work, and I’m interested to get to know more about you.  Even though your blog shares a bit of your story about why you opted to embark on a career in sports, I was hoping you might take me back to the time when you were in the process of making the choice.  I’d be interested to hear you share what you were feeling and let me know how your career in sports got started.

AJ:  Sure.  Growing up, probably at about the age of seven I knew I wanted to be a lawyer.  Everything I did from that point on was to help me to move in that direction.  I wanted to be in Entertainment law, and so I set out to go in that direction.   I attended Chapman University Law School, and landed a great internship.  I was on my way toward Entertainment Law.  Problem was I graduated in 2009, and one day I came into work and noticed my secretary crying.  The debilitating effects of the recession were taking hold on so many and I was among those who would be forced to face the harsh realities of the crippling job market.  I found myself on the beach realizing that there were no real opportunities in the career choice I had expected to be on, and I faced the reality that I was miserable.   It was then that I decided to change course, and I decided to create


MSX:  So you decided you would move from Entertainment law to Sports Law?

AJ:  Well, actually the purpose of the site was to showcase my work.  I wanted others to know that I understood ‘Sports Law’ and that I was a good candidate for a job.  By writing on the blog, I was in a sense putting myself out there.  I was showing that I knew and hoped that would land me a job.


MSX:  What happened next?

AJ:  Luck would have it that I created my blog right when the NBA decided to lock out players and I was asked to cover the event.  Within twenty-four hours I was invited to be a guest on a sports talk radio show to discuss the legal issues about the lock out, and it’s been non-stop ever since.  I have covered sports for Forbes, covered to several Final Four events, as well as the first ever college playoff in Dallas, all as a credentialed reporter.


aliciajessop2MSX: Who do you find is your biggest supporter?

AJ:  I have to say it’s my dad.  He is there for me all the time, up early and always reading all of my work.


MSX: When you were a child did you happen to play sports or were you more of a spectator?

AJ:  I grew up a ‘Jackie of All Trades’ at the youth level.  My favorite sport is basketball and I love it most at the collegiate level.  I find it is beautiful due to the raw talent and athleticism.


MSX:  If I were to ask you who comes to mind when you think of a female in sports who has contributed to something significant to women in history, who comes to mind?

AJ:  I would have to say Pat Summit, the head coach emeritus of the of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team. Everyone always makes a big deal about others when they get their thousandth win, but if you check on Pat’s record, you might see she has achieved that as well but nobody paid too much attention.


MSX: Why do you think Coach K is a household name, and Pat Summit is not as well known?

AJ:  I think it’s because of exposure.  Women in sports deserve to have the same exposure but they just do not seem to get it.  If you turn on the television you might see the men playing in a lower division game, more so than you will see the women.  It just comes down to exposure, and women in sport just do not get the same exposure.  I think this needs to change. One thing I think though, is that women just need to keep doing what they do well.  It will come.  In other words, do not use your gender as an excuse.  I think it is very important that we just show up, do an amazing job, and eventually we will be recognized.


MSX:  So what would you do to see that women get more exposure?

AJ:  I would just do what I am doing.  I would continue to focus on athlete’s performance not gender, and I would simply deal with it without focusing on gender bias.  I think we simply need to treat all athletes in a way that shows their performance and potential, not so much their gender. In addition, I think women need to support other women and not be threatened.  We need to collaborate and work together to promote one another.


aliciajessop1MSX:  Do you mind if I move over to the social issues that have plagued the sports world this past year?  In particular, the rape at Vandy, and the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, bullying and alike.  Which issue do you find most disturbing, if any?

AJ:  Well, since I’m a professor and some of the athletes are in my class, I felt I needed to bring up the topics that deal with the Vandy rape.  This affects us all, and this was perhaps the most gruesome story I had ever heard.  My students are between the ages of 18-22 and by the time I meet them, they have been shaped and molded by those who have been in their lives early on.  I think that it is very important that parents are incredible role models to their children, and that respect is taught early on.  With regard to the Vandy rape, I’m concerned about the bystander behavior.  I think we need to teach boundaries and we need to be very careful with social media, as well.

I did not get my first cell phone until I was 18, but kids today have cameras and phones with them from the time they are very young.  It is very important that they understand the ramifications of publicizing every moment they experience with the world.


Alicia is doing wonderful things, and as our time drew to a close I found myself doing a Google search for Pat Summit, to learn more about this amazing woman who has written three books, received the Presidential medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, and received Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2012 ESPY Awards.

If you head on over to her blog, you’ll find the reasons why Alicia bet on herself.  After concluding my interview with Alicia, I was right there with her.  In fact, I’d be inclined to take the over, when it comes to her achieving her dreams and making her mark in history, with so many other remarkable women in sport.

After I hung up I realized we got so caught up in talking about legal issues, that I had neglected to ask those three questions that were prerequisites for the interview series, for Double G.  So I shot over a quick email, and Alicia responded as follows:


Favorite sports movie:  Happy Gilmore

Dinner:  Jesus, Bono and Betty White.  As a Christian, I’d like to sit and talk to Jesus for obvious reasons, but as a person, I think there is so much one could learn about loving and serving others from him.  My favorite band is U2, so it’d be awesome to meet Bono.  However, he truly as a servant’s heart and I’d likes to talk to him about what he’s seen and experienced around the world.  Betty White is really the only celebrity I’ve ever wanted to meet.  She is such a happy and fun lady and I think she’d provide a nice balance to the group.

Legacy:  When all is said and done, I hope people remember me as someone who always helped others.  I want people to look back and say that I helped give them a chance or opportunity or made life a little bit easier or better.  At the end of the day, the journey I’m on really isn’t about me.  Yes, I’ve been given great opportunities and am appreciative of them.  However, I work hard and tirelessly so that I can give back to and serve others, so that is what I hope I am remembered for.


After reading Alicia’s desired legacy, I thought of a quote I had read once shared by Molly Sims that goes something like this: “People are always saying I’m lucky, but I’ve worked damn hard to be this lucky”

It’s nice to see women working so hard and making such amazing progress, in what some might consider a man’s world.  Like Alicia said, it’s our world if we choose to work hard, and she sure seems to be proving her case.  Guess that seven-year-old girl was on to something.

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Michelle has been a sports writer and analyst for many years. Now, as host of Neutral Court, sponsored by In The Zone, Michelle brings a new sports topic to the debate floor with each episode.
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