M⁠i⁠chele Tafoya

November 4, 2022

November 4, 2022

“As a sideline reporter with Sunday Night Football, I covered games where some players took a knee during the National Anthem – which was, and is, their First Amendment right. But I also discovered that some people believe the flag and the anthem are somehow racist. This was a stark change from what I witnessed after 9/11, when patriotism was on full display in sports. I’m not sure how things changed so drastically in such a short amount of time. The American pride I remembered from my childhood appeared to be on the decline.”

“Identity politics continues to slice America into all kinds of ‘marginalized’ groups. I believe that is a disruptive transition away from the idea that we’re all Americans. Instead of being unified, we have groups of people telling other groups they are oppressed because of their immutable characteristics.”

“I disagree with that assessment. I’m a Hispanic woman, and my parents believed firmly in the American Dream. So when I graduated college at a time when women were just beginning to break into sports broadcasting, I believed I could do it, too. My ambition was to make it to the highest level. I worked extremely hard – with no special advantages or connections — and I got there.”

“After I got married and had children, I started focusing on the bigger picture and what the future had in store for my kids. I got concerned with the direction of the country, and I wanted to have a voice in the political conversation.” 

“I soon found if you posted anything questioning the status quo, the mob came for you. That was the tipping point for me. If we can’t openly disagree, debate or question things, we are on a very dangerous road.”

“So I decided to leave my career in order to be able to speak more freely. I wanted to give a voice to all these people who felt like they couldn’t speak out for fear of being ‘canceled.’ I felt staying silent was a greater risk than speaking up for my values.”

“Two days after I retired from the sidelines I appeared on The View. After the show, I was discouraged because the conversation had not been intellectually honest or productive. It was purely political. But when I got to the airport and looked at social media, I saw a message from someone I didn’t know. He said he was a 28-year-old gay man from Philadelphia who loved The View and wanted me to know that I’d opened his eyes and made him think. I almost started crying with joy right there in the airport. The ideas I had expressed were not ground-breaking, but this man just hadn’t heard them from someone he could relate to or trust. His message encouraged me to keep speaking out.”

“I named my podcast ‘Sideline Sanity’ because I want to have sane, civil dialogue. Faith in the mainstream media is at an all-time low. My goal is to be a trustworthy messenger who brings an open mind to the table. You don’t have to scream and yell to be heard.”

Michele Tafoya
Twin Cities, Minnesota

After leaving her career as a sideline reporter with Sunday Night Football, Michele Tafoya began the “Sideline Sanity” podcast where she encourages open, respectful dialogue.