Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.
For most, being a star athlete is a dream and very seldom a reality, but when sports are your passion and the NFL or NBA are not calling, what do you do? That was the question that faced a young Michael Eaves, who excelled in sports and knew he needed to make his life in and around them. Fast forward and it worked, Eaves is now thriving in a prominent role at ESPN as an anchor on the network’s iconic news and information show SportsCenter. Eaves started his career in his home state of Kentucky, spending six years producing and reporting, and was honored with the Kentucky Broadcasters Association Award for Best Sportscast. His travels then took him from the South to the West, where he honed his skills and earned Emmy awards for reporting and features. In 2015, Michael Eaves joined ESPN and has never looked back. Today his duties include anchoring SportsCenter, SC on the Road, golf, and this summer he will be heading to Japan to report on the Olympics. The Overhead Compartment teamed up with Michael Eaves to learn about his love of sports, and his famous hole in one!
THE OVERHEAD COMPARTMENT WITH MICHAEL EAVES
*Editor’s note: The tragic death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant occurred shortly after our interview with Michael Eaves, who anchored over five hours of special coverage on the day of the helicopter crash which killed Bryant and eight others, including his thirteen year old daughter. Michael shared these thoughts with the Overhead Compartment about that day.
“Delivering the news on the death of Kobe Bryant and continuing that coverage for the next 5-plus hours was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in over 25 years of broadcasting. I hated every second of it, but because I spent 10 years in Los Angeles covering the Lakers and the NBA, I’m actually really glad that I was there to deliver the news. It was a huge national story, but it also had a local element to it because of how much Kobe meant to the city of Los Angeles. I felt a real responsibility to convey to the rest of the country the connection Kobe had with his fans, especially the ones who can’t afford the court-side or lower arena seats at Staples Center. The city felt gutted by the loss of Kobe, and I hope the rest of the country understood why. On a personal note, it was such a surreal moment. I’ve always understood that if you do this job long enough, there’s a pretty good chance that you will have to report the death of someone you knew personally. Sunday was that day for me, and I’ll never forget it.”
The Overhead Compartment starts now….
OC: What are your expectations for the Super Bowl?
ME: First and foremost, I’m looking forward to a fun and festive atmosphere. Miami is one of my favorite cities in the country, and I wish they held the Super Bowl there more often. As far as the game is concerned, I’m expecting a compelling matchup of strength vs strength with the Chiefs offense against the 49ers defense. Plus, this could be the first of many Super Bowl wins for the league’s next great quarterback: Patrick Mahomet.
OC: What do you find to be the most exciting sporting event of the year?
ME: My FAVORITE event is the Masters (golf nut) but the most exciting is definitely the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, especially the opening weekend.
OC: What makes it so special?
ME: With so many teams making the tournament, the storylines are endless. Plus, history has shown us that the majority of the tournament’s famous upsets and buzzer-beaters happen over that opening weekend. And who doesn’t love a good buzzer-beater?
OC: You went to The University of Kentucky, how would you describe what basketball means to the people in your home state?
ME: It’s cliché to say that basketball is more of a religion than a sport in Kentucky, but it’s actually more than that. To so many people there, Kentucky Basketball is an identity. The success of that team through the years has given its fans a reason to feel proud about being from Kentucky. Most Americans don’t know much about Kentucky, but every sports fan knows about Kentucky Basketball.
OC: You love golf, we need to hear every detail of your hole in one.
ME: When I worked at WKYT-TV in Lexington, KY, I competed in a fundraiser for a local charity. I took pledges from friends for a golf marathon. I ended up playing 127 holes that day. One of the par-3’s had a closest-to-the-pin contest, and I was determined to win it. On about the 5th or 6th time playing that hole that day, I hit a 9-iron to a pin that was playing 162 yards. In the air, I was excited because I thought I was finally going to get closest-to-the-hole. The ball landed about 2 feet behind and spun back into the hole. As you might expect, I lost my mind for about 45 seconds screaming and jumping up and down. It still bothers me that I haven’t aced another hole since then. Plus, I don’t even remember what I won for getting the closest-to-the-pin that day!
OC: You were close with the iconic Stuart Scott, how would you describe him for people who didn’t know him personally?
ME: He was one of the most genuine people I have ever met. Nothing about him was fake. His on-screen and off-screen personality were exactly the same. We didn’t just lose one of the best sportscasters of all-time when Stuart died. We also lost one of the world’s best humans.
OC: What advice would you give to aspiring young sportscasters that have dreams of working at ESPN?
ME: LEARN HOW TO WRITE. In order to be an effective reporter and/or anchor, you have to be able to communicate. Whether you work for a newspaper or a television network, you have to be able to tell compelling stories, and good writing skills are key, even when doing highlights off a shot sheet!
OC: What is your favorite city work has ever taken you?
ME: Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Summer Olympics
OC: What did you do when you had down time in that city?
ME: Fortunately, one of my good friends had moved to Rio a couple years earlier. She and her boyfriend, who grew up in Brazil, took me to see parts of the city that I never would have otherwise. They took me to too many local spots to list. Visiting the tourist sites is always a good idea (which I also did), but to get a real feel of the local culture, you need to experience how the locals live. I’m so glad I got that experience in Rio.
OC: Favorite place for leisure travel?
ME: Cabo San Lucas. The combination of food, climate and beaches are hard to beat, especially when it was just a 2-hour flight away when I lived in LA.
OC: If you weren’t covering Sports, what would you be doing for a living?
ME: Something in the golf industry. I’ve played since I was a kid and was a pretty good junior player through high school.
OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?
ME: Log-on all my devices to the wifi.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:
ME: My iPad and headphones. I like to pass the time on planes by listening to music, watching movies or reading books, and that’s why those two items are must-haves for me.
Michael Eaves, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!
Stacy Steponate Greenberg brings over 15 years of travel and marketing experience to Pursuitist. With her column, The Overhead Compartment, Stacy interviews celebrities and athletes bringing an insight into their lives and travel habits. Stacy spent 11 years at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in various capacities, serving stints as Director of Marketing for the St. Regis and Sheraton brands, and Senior Director for Starwood Residences. Prior to Starwood, Stacy worked as Manager of Marketing for Hyatt Hotels. A native of Chicago, Stacy resides New York City with her husband and two kids, who like to “rate” the various hotels on their travels with their mom. Reach Stacy via Twitter twitter.com/StacyGSG.