Philippou: Why Katie Nolan is important for sports media

April 24, 2016, 11:18 p.m.

For too long, sports media has played by the rules, covering the same storylines and hesitating to a) cover difficult or controversial issues affecting the sports world or b) cover them with nuance or a critical enough lens. It’s something that upsets me as an aspiring sports journalist and that should (but probably doesn’t) upset sports fans as a whole.

That’s why I’ve found Katie Nolan not simply a refreshing voice in the world of sports but also a necessary one.

One of the rising stars in sports media, Nolan is currently the host of “Garbage Time,” a sports and pop culture podcast on Fox Sports 1. While working as a bartender in Boston, Nolan, a huge Patriots fan, started a blog called “Bitches Can’t Hang,” which also focused on sports and pop culture, and worked for a now-extinct website called “Guyism.” Fox Sports would later discover her, bringing her on to help with Regis Philbin’s sports show “Crowd Goes Wild.” The network later had her host a web series called “No Filter” and eventually gave her her own show, “Garbage Time.”

While the majority of “Garbage Time” features comedic takes on recent happenings in sports, her critical commentary is what makes her stand out amid a sea of complacency that plagues much of sports media.

Katie Nolan calls out bullshit when she sees it; she touches on wider societal problems that manifest themselves in sports but are also typically ignored by sports fans and sports media when they do make their way into the sports world.

Exhibit A: She is by no means a fan of Roger Goodell. She has slammed him and the NFL for their apparent apathy towards domestic violence committed by pro football players.

While her criticism of Goodell was daring in of itself, she went a step further in her commentary: She argued that boycotting the NFL wouldn’t solve any problems. Instead, she contended that for the NFL to respect women, the media it answers to will have to do so first (“A boycott means walking away. I would rather fight back.”). She daringly challenged her own employer, Fox, and other media to include more women at “the big boy table” of sports journalism, to put them in places where they can meaningfully contribute to the conversation instead of simply standing on the sidelines or facilitating discussions for their male peers.

Nolan once again called out her colleagues in sports media for their soft coverage of Greg Hardy as he returned to the NFL following his suspension for assaulting his ex-girlfriend (“Christ, guys, enough … What are we f*cking doing? What matters to you?”). 

The nature of Nolan’s commentary is more than just anti-NFL, pro-women. She directly called out our sports-crazed society for its excessive worship of athletes and celebrities when discussing how sports fans and influential figures in the industry (i.e. Peter King) willingly separate the athlete from the person when deciding an individual’s legacy — something that she vehemently argues against (“They are literally the same person making all these decisions.”).

The objective behind Nolan’s show is not for her to be “the voice” for women sports journalists or female sports fans, or for her to point out what is wrong with the sports world. In fact, she sees her show as an attempt to get sports comedy, a genre that has not historically done well, to finally work in the industry.

Regardless of her intentions, Nolan has gone where many journalists or pundits won’t, picks up subtleties that others don’t and has dared to criticize the very individuals and entities that give her a job and topics to discuss.

Why doesn’t the media do this already? Because its members 1) don’t look at things with a critical enough lens or 2) are too afraid to say what they feel, for fear of being a) reprimanded by their bosses or b) facing backlash from the very athletes or figures they criticize as well as from sports fans.

The media is not supposed to simply be a lineup of talking heads for the NFL and other professional leagues. They shouldn’t simply regurgitate what we already know or discuss the same storylines we’ve heard again and again. They have a responsibility to report things fairly and without an agenda, something I’m not entirely sure is always done in the industry.

Sports media has a responsibility to call out issues within the sports world — such as domestic violence or sexism — that are not properly or aggressively being addressed. If they don’t, then not only will sports fans not know or not care, but the people who perpetrate these issues or enable the people that do will continue to get away with such behavior.

It’s time for sports media to start tackling the controversies plaguing sports head-on. As a start, they should start taking a page out of Katie Nolan’s book.


Alexa Philippou is on a determined quest to MAKE SPORTS GREAT AGAIN, one weekly college newspaper sports section column at a time. Make donations to her campaign at aphil723 ‘at’

Alexa Philippou '18 is a political science major and a former Managing Editor of The Daily's sports section. She switched from the sports section to news her junior year, where she has worked on the university/local beat since. Being from Baltimore, she is a die-hard Ravens and Orioles fan who cried when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. To contact Alexa, please email her at aphil723 'at'

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