Mac Engel

Sports’ TV next bold play: Putting Brit’ Kate Abdo in the big chair for the NBA or NFL

She speaks four languages, has lived all over the world, wisely has no interest to reside again in her native England because of the weather, and now is on the verge of losing her British accent.

Fox, or some other sports giant network, would be wise to promote Kate Abdo while she still speaks fluent British. She has lived in the U.S. just long enough that the American is taking over too many of her Rs, As and Os.

“That would break my mother’s heart,” she said.

Abdo, who worked extensively overseas in sports TV and is known more for her work handling Fox’s soccer coverage, is essentially the first female to handle the sport of televised boxing in the U.S. She will lead the broadcast of the Fox telecast of the Errol Spence Jr./Mikey Garcia fight on Saturday night at Jerry’s Club.

Whether it’s James Brown, Bob Costas, Chris Berman, Ernie Johnson, Erin Andrews and a few others, the role of the sports TV host has become its own genre, and Abdo is the latest winning lottery ticket.

Whomever wins the fight on Saturday night, Abdo already has won this decision. Sports TV is always desperate to find/create the “next thing” and Abdo fits that description.

No English voice has occupied the role of the sports host in the conventional behind-the-desk format to orchestrate the noise between talking heads and games in the U.S.

“As a woman in sports the one thing that you feel really conscious of is that there is no room for you to make a mistake,” Abdo said in an interview on Thursday. “There is no room for you to know less. You have to be really conscientious of, how prepared am I? Am I across the sport? You almost feel like you need to be a level ahead of a male broadcaster simply because there is that assumed knowledge whereas a female coming in to any type of sport you have to prove that I belong here.”

She is right. Whether the male-going audience wants to admit it, the female in the sports TV role still must recite all of the facts and stats from, know the particulars of every NFL game ever played, and regurgitate all other sorts of trivia and tidbits before the man says, “OK. Girl know sport. ... Me hungry. Me want beer.”

Abdo has the credentials to prove that she knows her subjects, and can learn them, which is what the task requires: Know the sport, not just be a man.

“I’d (like to) morph into a man for a day. I’d love to know what it feels like to be a man,” she said when I asked her what super power she’d like to possess. “The super power of man.”

The super power of man is that not that we are super, but rather we continue to pass the baton of power amongst ourselves.

The question comes down to whether a super powerful man/TV exec in L.A. or New York City believes an audience would accept a female British voice running a major broadcast show between a studio and the actual American-centric sports event.

Abdo has done it for the World Cup, and other soccer events. Now Abdo has done boxing, a sport that is more popular in her native Britain than in the U.S., and mostly male.

Her next jump is up to the NBA or, the paradise of sports televsion: College and NFL football.

She has mastered English, French, German and Spanish so adding American football and NBA basketball are just two more languages to learn.

She just needs the chance before she losses her British accent.

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