With 31 US Women’s National Team caps to her name, and a professional soccer career that spanned nearly two decades in the club ranks, there’s no doubting that Lori Lindsey knows her soccer. After her retirement from the game, she’s stayed involved as a performance trainer and a broadcast analyst for NWSL games, as well as a studio analyst for the Philadelphia Union.
Her next career phase will include another step in the broadcasting world. A sideline analyst for Nashville SC’s three-person television crew, she’ll be providing not only the perspective of a former player, but quite literally a different perspective from the field level.
In Lindsey’s specific case, she also gets the responsibility of personifying a pair of under-presented groups in sports media: women, and openly gay individuals. It’s not a task she strove to fill when entering the world of broadcast media. However, it’s one that she takes seriously.
“I think it just comes with the territory, and it’s just how I live my life: it’s not a secret that I’m an out gay woman,” she explained. “Google it and that’s the first thing that’s going to come up. I’m not afraid to talk about it. I think we’re always working to make headway in any way that we can. Being true to who I am is just another way of doing that, whether it’s in broadcasting or not.”
It would be unfair to describe Lindsey’s approach to being a role model as “reluctant,” but it’s a role she’s accepted, not necessarily sought out. By simple virtue of who she is, any spotlight shone by her presence on the playing field – or as a broadcaster on the television screen – is going to find someone who has no qualms about being herself, and whatever that may represent to the viewer.
Her soccer career helped open doors into the media world. Lindsey’s entry into broadcasting was her way to stay involved with the game, and to scratch a competitive, team-building itch that she was missing as a performance trainer in the Washington D.C. area. Whether she wants to or not, the gig also comes with something of a torch-bearing responsibility for an entire gender.
Lindsey has the opportunity to break through a glass ceiling of sorts in Major League Soccer. While she won’t be the first woman to provide commentary on a team’s local broadcast crew, she can continue showing that there’s a greater – perhaps at times unrealized – value in bringing that type of gender diversity to the team.
“I don’t necessarily feel like it’s a tougher battle,” she said of being a female analyst. “I do take it very seriously, and especially when you’re calling the men’s game. I think it is a path that you start to see, is people think it’s really glamorous, you see former players that start wanting to get into it, and then they realize, ‘oh, this takes a lot of work and it’s a craft in itself.’
“I take it very seriously, and I think when you’re calling the men’s game – yes because I have had the experience that I’ve had with my playing side, that already helps me – but at the same time, calling the men’s game, I obviously haven’t played in MLS. I think there’s somewhat of an uphill battle, but I really feel that the broadcast side of things is starting to welcome a lot more women, and want to see the perspective and the way that we see the game sometimes differently than the men’s side.”
Her role as an analyst alongside the play-by-play of Englishman Tony Husband and color commentary of former Minnesota United midfielder Jamie Watson is one that provides the opportunity to do more than chime in with occasional reports from the field – a too-typical position that seems almost designed to minimize the impact women have on a broadcast team. Instead, she’s providing a different perspective alongside them, even if that doesn’t mean physically adjacent to her co-commentators.
“This unique opportunity for sure when it was presented to me was something I wanted to pursue,” she explained. “Because I’m not in the booth, I’m on the sideline, and it’s a role you don’t see with very many teams at all: it has an open mic, I’m not a reporter. I’m an analyst down there with a different vantage point. With being able to do replays and goal celebrations, I can do all of these different things that you don’t typically see. I’m an analyst within MLS, which is extremely unique: I think there’s only three of us in the entire league.”
There’s no word on when the 2020 Major League Soccer season may resume as the United States, like nearly every country around the world, deals with the novel coronavirus epidemic. When soccer returns, there’s no question that Nashville SC has built one of the most talented – and thanks to in part Lindsey, diverse – broadcast crews in the league.