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The Hardest-Working Girl in Sports

Lisa Guerrero, of Fox Sports Net, will debate all comers on zone defense versus man-to-man, while puffing on her favorite cigar.
Joel Drucker
From the Print Edition:
Cuban Models, May/June 03

When you're sleeping, Lisa Guerrero is working. When you're relaxing, Lisa Guerrero is working. When you're vacationing, Lisa Guerrero is working. When she's vacationing, Lisa Guerrero is working. Then again, when your office space includes places like Dodger Stadium, how bad can that be? Guerrero occupies an intersection that has only blossomed in the last 10 years -- the merger of sports and entertainment. A former model, she's employed mind and body to find work that previously never existed. Guerrero is a sports anchor and reporter for Fox Sports Net, the network that's constantly looking for new ways to inject sports coverage with the hippest of cultural references and innuendo.

The bulk of Guerrero's job is a solo act. At precisely 7:09 Pacific time each weeknight, she delivers a live two-and-a-half-minute sports update from Fox Sports Net's Los Angeles newsroom. One update might seem easy enough. After all, the TelePrompTer operator loads up the copy that's been written for her, the producer has prepared the highlights, there's time to rehearse and off you go.

Try doing this every 12 minutes for five hours.

Hour by hour, minute by minute, Guerrero is a racehorse, sitting upright in a chair, revising copy, clarifying names and places, sprinkling the reports with jokes while a producer talks in her ear -- then delivering with breakneck speed and unflagging enthusiasm. By the time she's through, she's delivered at least 25 updates.

Sitting in her dressing room on the lot of 20th Century Fox, the 38-year-old Guerrero reflects on her career. "I consider myself a TV personality who talks about sports," she says. "I think of each report as a performance. It's not just a reading, but a chance to connect with the audience."

On a round glass table sit several publications -- Street & Smith's Pro Football 2002, Sports Illustrated, TV Guide and the Los Angeles Times sports section. Guerrero admits she feels a bit guilty that she's got no time to read any other parts of the paper. "I've always loved sports, I've always loved acting," she says. "If it wasn't for Fox, I wouldn't have this job, so it's great to see this marriage of sports and entertainment."

When aspiring broadcasters ask her how to break into the field, Guerrero asks, "What's your ideal Monday night?" Most say nothing. Guerrero counters, imploring them to watch "Monday Night Football" with the volume off (the better to study offense and defense). Throw in a pizza with extra cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms and onions, and Guerrero is in heaven.

But the six-plus hours Guerrero spends prepping and delivering her nightly updates are only part of her job. Prior to the evening's work, she's a panelist on Fox's raucous "Best Damn Sports Show Period." Guerrero is the show's lone female, mixing it up with such ex-jocks as Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers forward John Salley, Philadelphia Phillies first baseman John Kruk and Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin. Added to this is the yammering of host Tom Arnold and the whooping from the 50 to 60 fans on hand for every taping. If you had a dollar for every time you heard someone say "dude" or "what up?" around the Fox studios, you'd be richer than Bill Gates.

Guerrero sees herself less as a journalist and more as a well-informed, thoughtful fan. According to Salley, "She's the only woman next to Hannah Storm that knows what she's talking about when she talks about sports. She has an opinion, we hit heads, but she knows the game. She's not just reading up on it on Google, she's watching the game."

As the show opens, there's talk about the value of a team bringing in an old veteran for a playoff run. Irvin and Kruk question this specific veteran's talents. Guerrero counters, noting that his post-season experience could help his teammates. She and Irvin tap each other on the shoulder over this friendly interchange. When the segment is over, Guerrero dashes out to start reading and watching highlights for her evening stint.

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