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SPORTS BABE OF THE DAY: Aditi Kinkhabwala, Reporter, NFL Network

SPORTS BABE OF THE DAY Presents: Aditi Kinkhabwala, Reporter, NFL Network & NFL.COM, @AKinkhabwala

Football fans may recognize this beautiful face. Aditi Kinkhabwala, reporter for the NFL Network and, joins the NFL family after two years with the Wall Street Journal as a sports writer. A Cornell alumni, she has written for the NY Giants beat, The Record in NJ, and for to name a few…She has been all over the map, literally, but what is life really like on the road as a reporter? Hear what she has to say about some of her favourite (and not so favourite) experiences in (and on) the field…


1. Why football? Have you always been a football fan?
My first love was baseball; my dad took me to Yankee Stadium before I was two years old. But when it comes to being a reporter, it’s always been football for me. I love the characters and personalities, I love that every team needs athletes of different shapes and sizes and skill sets, I love the chess match machinations of each play. And I love that it’s the ultimate team sport; no one player can win the game by himself.

2. You are living what most would consider a dream job, is it everything you thought it would be? What is your favourite part of the job?
I know I am blessed: I love what I do. I like that every day is different (I am not wired to sit behind a desk every day!), but what I really love is all the people I get to talk to. I am insatiably curious and people’s stories fascinate me. My family says I could talk to a brick wall.


3. How much time do you spend on the road and what are your favourite places to travel to for work?
This season was definitely rough. I stopped counting nights on the road after I got into triple digits. But… I got to go to the Pro Bowl this year and that is easily and by far the best work road trip EVER. There is some sort of healing, warming quality to Hawaii. After my second day there, I’d almost forgotten the previous eight weeks of standing on sidelines in sub-freezing temperatures and all sorts of precipitation. (I definitely irked the weather gods this year. It rained or snowed on me no matter where I went. If anyone knows how to appease them before next season, please call me!)


7. What is your most prized piece of work to date?
Oh that’s tough. I’ve been working for a long time! How about I give you what I’m most proud of from this past year…In the middle of the season, I got to fly out to Seattle and sit down with fullback Derrick Coleman. He is an incredibly hard worker, with a really bright mind and an infectious charm. He also happens to be completely deaf. His story just tugs at every part of me: from the creativity his mother called upon to help him play Pop Warner to the perceptions he’s had to push back his whole career to the person he is today. There is nothing more rewarding than having people say that your telling of a story has moved them. I think that’s the daily goal of my work, sharing something that sticks with my reader, or my viewer. In any case, you should watch it!

4. What are the “not so glamorous” aspects of the job that we might not see?
See: 100-something nights on the road. Somewhere after 50, they stop being glamorous!

5. Have you ever written anything that’s got you in trouble?
Trouble’s a relative term. 😉

6. If you could interview any athlete in any sport, who would it be and why?
Babe Didrikson Zaharias. When I was in I think second grade, I did a book report on her. She was a female pioneer and one of the first athletes I ever wrote about. Her story spoke to me when I was a little kid; I hope it would now too.

8. What and where did you study your undergrad?
I went to Cornell, where I was an American Studies major and committedly pre-law. My dad only just stopped asking me when I’m going to law school about five years ago. Incidentally, Ron Prince (the Lions’ assistant head coach), Bill Lazor (Dolphins offensive coordinator) and Raheem Morris (former Bucs head coach, current Redskins secondary coach) were all on the Cornell coaching staff when I was a student. The place was a veritable football hotbed!

9. Where is home for you currently?
Pittsburgh, PA. I was born in New York City, I grew up in New Jersey, I lived in Hoboken, NJ up until a year and a half ago and… I’m adjusting. 😉

10. On a slightly serious note, how do you deal with haters who can’t handle seeing a woman on the field, or working in football?
In the pre-Twitter world (am I aging myself?), I would respond to every email I got, even the derisive ones. I would write to the naysayers, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Thank you for reading (the paper I wrote for).”

Today, Twitter has made it far too easy for people to anonymously spew hate. I generally ignore them. I did, however, make an exception after one particularly egregious tweet this past season. The Steelers had lost, I had tweeted a direct quote from their quarterback and even though I’d offered no comment or analysis on what he’d said, a Steelers fan apparently thought I shouldn’t have shared what the quarterback said. So he tweeted me, “Did the dot on your forehead freeze and fall off?”

I couldn’t let that go. I think about everything my parents went through in immigrating to this country and creating opportunity for my brother and I, and the pride I of course have in the culture they were born into. And so I retweeted him… and said, “Taking this Steelers loss well, aren’t you?”

I was moved by how many followers responded to THAT with their support. It reaffirmed my faith in the goodness of people.

11. So who is YOUR team/favourite player?
That definitely changes when it becomes your job to cover teams and players. You root for stories more than you do teams. And I’ve been around far too many interesting people – who’ve treated me well – to name one favorite athlete.

I will say this: on any given Sunday afternoon, I’ll get a fan of Team X tweeting me an accusation that I like Team Y and a fan of Team Y messaging that I must be a supporter of Team X.

12. Did you play any sports growing up? Is there anything that keeps you active now?
I played a little of everything: soccer, softball, tennis, you name it, I probably did it. (Including ice hockey. Which I’ll freely admit I was awful at.)

These days, I love to run and I’ll kick a ball around any chance I get. I’ve been thinking about taking up golf for a good five years now, but I can’t seem to stomach the idea of being bad at something for a long time.

13. What are your hobbies outside of sports?
I loooove to read. I think I’ve gone through four novels since I came home from the Super Bowl. I don’t have a great attention span except when it comes to escaping into a book.


14. So, I have to ask…are you single, dating or taken?
I’m married (and oh, my mother waited a LONG time to hear me say that). But I do try and tell my husband he should act like we’re dating. Don’t guys do better at the cute stuff when they’re just dating?

15. What’s your idea of a perfect night out (or in!)?
Out… I don’t care where I am, I just want great conversation and great wine.

In… This is so cheesy, but… I spend so much time on the road, pretty much any night in with my husband (and great wine) is perfect.

16. Any advice for any ladies who are looking to follow in your footsteps?
Be a good listener. Don’t ever be afraid to ask a question. And always believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else?

17. Overall, what do you want to be remembered for?
Being a good wife. And sister. And daughter. And friend. And, hopefully one day, mother. Professionally, being a good storyteller. I got in this business to share stories and I don’t see the desire to do that ever waning.

Thank you so much for the interview, Aditi. You are an amazing role model for aspiring female writers/reporters in sports. We definitely look forward to seeing more from you next season! Follow Aditi on twitter at @AKinkhabwala


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