John Koblin over at Deadspin.com wrote an intriguing story about a freelance writer named Sarah Phillips, who worked her way up in the blogger world only for it to come crashing down. As elaborate and insightful as the article is there is still one important detail missing: Who is Sarah Phillips?
Phillips wrote extensively about sports gambling for a gambling website known as Covers.com. She would give her picks for certain events and would consistently write about anything that had to do with the world of sports gambling. How was she different than any other employed internet blogger? Simply put, she wasn’t.
Five months after she began writing for Covers.com, as reported by Koblin, she received an interesting tweet from ESPN.com editor Lynn Hoppes. At the time Phillips went by the Twitter handle @RealSarahPHI.
@realsarahphi hey, sarah, i’m mr. lynn hoppes of espn.com. give me a shout when you can. thanks. email@example.com
— Lynn Hoppes (@lhoppes) August 24, 2011
Her wildest dreams were about to come true, a legitimate offer from an editor of the biggest sports media network on the planet. She was so nervous about the meeting that for the first time in a long time she had butterflies in her stomach.
Biggest meeting of my life. Butterflies in stomach. Wish me luck.
— Sarah Phillips(@SarahPhilli) August 26, 2011
Did Phillips and Hoppes ever meet in person? Only two people in the world can answer that question. The point is she was hired by ESPN to write a column titled “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.” ESPN wanted someone to successfully tackle the interesting topic of sports gambling. No doubt something the media empire would have to tip-toe their way around considering the delicacy of gambling and sports. Phillips was the perfect gal for the job due to her high-interest and knowledge of the subject.
During this time she was affiliated with a person named “Ben.” Ben is the creator of NBA Memes Facebook page, as reported by Koblin. There is no way to know exactly who Ben is and what happened to his project. He was allegedly scammed into giving Phillips and some “co-workers” his administrator rights. The purpose of this was to use RotoWire and legitimatize Ben’s 800 “illegal” photos of NBA players. Apparently, Phillips was never fully aware of what was going on or so she says.
“Matt” is another person Phillips came into contact with due to her work at Covers.com, as reported by Koblin. He read her articles and consistently posted comments on her work. Matt allegedly participated in sports gambling, specifically baseball. According to Phillips, he was a video editor who came to her with an idea for a reality television show. Like most TV ideas, “it never panned out.”
Matt allegedly gave Phillips $2,100 so she could buy better advertising for her “piece of **** website.” This was due to him feeling bad for her for not having decent advertisement. Koblin reported that Matt and Phillips got into several heated arguments over owed money. Matt was going to completely cut off any kind of contact with Phillips until he found out she was working with ESPN.com, at which point he continued to give her money.
Phillips seems to be spot on when saying things were “complicated” with Matt. She explained via Twitter that she was “informed by Covers management that he was playing both sides – acting kindly to me, but trashing me to others in MSGs.” She then went on to halt all communication with him.
Was Phillips wrong in what she did? There is no way to know unless she comes forth and explains in detail what happened. Remember, there are two sides to every story. Just because one person came forward with allegations does not mean the other person is wrong. With that being said, even she admitted she could have handled the situation better.
Who are we to judge someone we do not even know? I guarantee each one of us, at some point in our lives, has been judged incorrectly and unfairly. Why did she use photographs of other women as her avatar? Is it possible, being someone new to freelance writing, she was nervous to put a real photo of her on the internet? Maybe she did not like the idea of the entire world knowing who was behind the “gambler” writer. I am by no means saying she was correct in doing this, however, I personally know people who are too afraid to put their real name on a blog post or use their credit card to purchase a product off the internet. The World Wide Web is a scary place as we found out Tuesday afternoon. Phillips claims her Twitter photo is her and the person in the YouTube video is her, and I believe this to be so.
Who is Sarah Phillips you ask? She is a young adult who fell into the world of sports media. Did she ever intend to write for ESPN? No. That freelance job fell in her lap because one of the editors thought her writing was creative and unique. She had a great job working for the leading carrier in sports media. So many of us have read her hilarious Junk Mail replies on ESPN Page 2 and her stories about what was currently happening in the world of sports. Why should it matter who was writing the material as long as it was entertaining?
Do I know Sarah Phillips personally? No, but I have had conversations with her about sports, like I am sure many of you have. She is someone who is enthusiastic about sports, specifically basketball. Monday morning she had the ingenious idea of creating a joke contest about her favorite basketball player, LeBron James. She had received several comments over the past few months from readers about how James does not have a championship ring.
She acknowledged the love/hate relationship for James and the Miami Heat, and decided to turn it into a fan contest. The idea was fans would submit their “best LeBron no ring joke” from May 1 through the NBA Finals. Phillips would then pick three finalists who will have their jokes voted on and the winner would receive a brand new pair of Beats by Dre headphones. The contest was a completely unselfish move and a creative way to interact with her followers.
I write a lot of articles about current events taking place in the sports world while also creating my own creative twist on certain players and teams. I wrote an article about Phillips creating the contest. I tweeted the article to her and several other handles, like I do with any of my stories. She started following me minutes after the article was posted and told me in a direct message via Twitter how cool it was I wrote an article featuring the contest. This is someone who works (at the time) for ESPN, a writer who does not have to comment on anyone else’s articles but decided to go out of her way and show her appreciation for me supporting her contest. We went on to talk about the NBA playoffs and how excited she was to watch James and the Heat in action. It was a casual conversation any of us have had with another sports enthusiast.
Is Sarah Phillips a person who has gone through life without making mistakes? No, she is just like the rest of us. Has the past year gone exactly how Koblin reported in his article? It is very doubtful. Once again, I’m not saying she did not do any of those things because there is no way for me to know for sure. I have never met Phillips personally and I do not know her enough to pass judgment on the issue. From what I have gathered, she is a sports fanatic who got involved with the wrong people and experienced life at a quick pace over the past few months. She got a fantastic job doing something she loved, but not something she expected. People took advantage of her and in the process she took advantage of them.
Phillips has been fired by ESPN but we should not look too much into that. The worldwide leader in sports does not like controversy and will separate from anything and anyone that might bring on a bad image. Obviously, an article about Phillips being a scam artist is very controversial and, therefore, ESPN quickly ditched the damaged goods.
Sarah Phillips could be a person who made a living scamming other people and somehow, in the process, was able to write for ESPN. For whatever reason, these people never came forward even though she worked for one of the largest websites on the web. I know if I was being scammed by the same person who writes a daily column for a large corporation, I would go right after them. Why did it take these people so long to do the same?
On the other hand, Phillips could be a person who, while writing for Covers and then ESPN, also worked on creating various websites and looked for people with similar interests to partner up with. This is not unrealistic to think considering this is how businesses come about. It is possible some of the people were legitimate while others had a completely different agenda. It is possible she got involved in a scheme to scam people without fully realizing what happened.
I am not saying she is definitely one or the other, I am just saying there are two sides to every story. It is very possible Phillips is the scam artist Koblin depicted in his highly informative article, as all the current facts point in that direction. It is also possible all of the facts are not on the table and she is not the person we all think she is.
It is up to each one of us to decide for ourselves who the real Sarah Phillips is.