“Loving and understanding sports is sexy!”
Eugenia Karolyi and I have known each other for many years. Our extrovert personalities, in addition to our passion for life and curiosity for trying new things, meeting new people (and always getting in trouble!) brought us close together as friends in middle school. Now, as adults, those skills and characteristics have maintained the friendship and brought us together as journalists. Vinna and I decide to interview Eugenia, because she truly represents the young and modern professional journalist, whose success relies mostly in giving a voice to women in a male-driven world, through today’s most powerful communication tool, social media.
Eugenia has a Masters degree from the European School of Economics in Sports and Marketing. She is also a citizen of the world, an international horseback rider, and a sports fanatic since she was in her mother’s belly (Die hard Barca, Chivas and Vinotinto fan, as she would say). Together with her best friend from college, Jessica Stella, they started a blog in Spanish called
“Deportadas” a year and a half ago. The informal WordPress blog turned into a full-blown website with over 80,000 hits monthly and is quickly growing into a franchise that has given girls everywhere a voice in sports. They plan to crossover to English later this year.
Daniela Ortega (D). Describe yourself as a person and as a professional.
Eugenia Karolyi (EK) I would describe myself as a very outgoing, energetic and very open person. Those qualities that describe as a person are the ones that have also helped me professionally as a journalist. Being an outgoing person, I think, invites people to talk to you, and want to tell you about their lives. Just like being an open person; once you open up to people, you get people to open up to you. It is all usually very professional but still you have the chance to build many relationships and friendships, as we have, out of this… This in the long run is also beneficial for your career.
D.O Tell me about your chemistry with Jessica? How is it working side by side with another woman? Do you guys ever experience any rivalry, jealousy, or any cattiness?
E.K There is none of that, I swear! We work together and live together; we have been best friends for the past ten years. There are always going to be small differences, but we know that above all comes our friendship. Luckily we have not been in any situation that would tear us apart, and I do not think we ever will, we have a very strong bond. I think self-confidence is key to deal with rivalries and egos. Jessica and I are both equals, we are partners; nobody is more important than the other is. In addition, when working with partners, for the sake of the business you always have to keep the problems behind the scenes and of office hours. Deal with them in your personal time.
D.O How was ‘DEPORTADAS” born? Did you ever plan for it? On the other hand, was it more of a dream for you?
E.K It was very spontaneous. It was during the last World Cup, Jessica and I were both working in PR in Mexico, when we figured out that there wasn’t a medium that would focus on sports, but for women. Therefore, we started blogging, very casually. The first month we already had 8,000 hits, without doing advertising or promotion of any kind. We then started promoting it through our friends, Facebook and Twitter accounts and within the third month, we had 15,000 hits. That was when we realized we actually had a market, a niche that was not being taken care of. We started giving structure to Deportadas, building the company and the website, for instance instead of only commenting on sports news, we started attending games and interviewing players, etc.
D.O Now that Deportadas has taken off, whom do you think it speaks too? Is it just for girls?
E.K Absolutely not! Our audience is half male and half female; let us say 51% female and 49% male. Guys, even though they deny it, they love gossip! Moreover, girls want to know what happened plus look at the hot soccer player without his shirt! ;D When they want an analytical point of view, there are many established places they can visit. We offer our readers the facts from a woman’s point of view without getting into too many details, we call it sports entertainment.
D.O How has your experience been as a women working is such a masculine environment as sports?
E.K It is a very chauvinistic world. There have been situations where we have been rejected, but in the end, they always take us in. The players and the athletes are usually very welcoming because our interviews are always fun and relaxed, and they are used to being attacked by the media. We differentiate ourselves by focusing on their positive qualities and their goals, and of course, asking our trademark question, “why do you consider a woman that knows about sports sexy?”
D.O So, what was the verdict?
E.K We have definitely proven our point, men like it! At the end of the day guys want to be able to watch and attend games with their girlfriends. Beside if they root for different teams in a game the reconciliations after are very interesting… HAHAHA I have been approached by guys who have said ‘Thank you ever since my girlfriend reads Deportadas she has found a way to relate to sports, we both read it and we have bonded so much more as a result.”
D.O How have you guys managed to stand out in games and compete to get the interviews next to media giants?
E.K At the beginning, we had a tough time. Last year in Spain we had, a couple of press directors deny the credentials for us, because they felt we were not as relevant. However, as time has gone by we have proved that there is a valuable market for us out there. For example in Copa America, last July in Argentina, we had a problem with one of the media officers that would not let us in the mix zone because we were blondes, even though we are accredited journalists! Eventually the press director of the AFA stood by our side and he got in a lot of trouble. I think Copa America was a big stepping stone where we got to prove ourselves as sport journalists, and prove that we do have an audience with our point of view, and even though it is not the traditional one it is still valid and professional.
D.O As a girl, have you ever interviewed any athlete you had a crush on, or felt completely star-struck? How did you deal with it?
E.K Yes! As you know most athletes are very shy and reserved, even though most of them receive media training. I am a huge Leonel Messi fan, he is the greatest soccer player in the world, but he is incredibly shy! In those cases our girly playfulness and easygoing nature has definitely been a plus to help them open up. In the opposite cases when I feel embarrassed about meeting a famous athlete who is flirting with you, I laugh! The words will never stay inside of me, because I am a talker! It happened to me with a Mexican soccer player the first time I interviewed him (the gentleman remains anonymous). You can still see the video in our website, I was so nervous, its very funny!
D.O Have you experienced that moment where you felt you made it?
E.K Yes and no. We still have a long way to go. A definite turning point was when the director for Fox Sports Latin America approached about turning the Deportadas into a show. We have participated before as guest commentators and he really liked us. We are also getting a section within Yahoo, which one of the most, if not the most, visited news site worldwide. The most important thing is that we are getting the word out, not only about Deportadas, but also about our philosophy. There are women who love sports and it is sexy to know and be involved in them!
D.O What is your advice for women who want to pursue a career in sports journalism? Who is do you look up too?
EK. We consider ourselves pioneers! We have discovered that there are many women who love sports as much as we do. We certainly have become role models for many young girls who want to pursue a career in sports journalism, we have been told by little ones that they want to grow up and be like the “Deportadas.” Always stay informed, read all the newspapers and find a creative way around your obstacles. We used to dress up as soccer players when we started! In fact, we had too in order to be noticed. My idol Ines Saenz, a gorgeous six feet tall, sports journalist for TV Azteca was standing right next to us. Therefore, you always have to improvise and find a way to stand out and be remembered! It is funny because people used to think we were Adidas promoters (they have taken us y the hand and supported our project since the beginning). But now, it is like we are dressed like Mickey and Minnie, every time we go out to a game with Barca (Me) an Real Madrid (Jessica) everyone wants to take pictures with us, especially fans! That is great, because as a public figure you love the attention, recognition and keeps building your audience!
Check them out at: http://Deportadas.com