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Taking The Fantasy Sports World By Storm
It was Monday night September 9th, 2013 and I was getting ready for my first show on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. “Lisa Ann Does Fantasy” would be covering the most popular fantasy sport, fantasy football. I had met my new co-host Adam Ronis when we did a pre show meeting and taping the summer before our first show. Adam and I hit it off right away. Not only was he a Dallas Cowboys fan, I was instantly enthralled with his vast sports knowledge. The night of my first show, I was excited and nervous but more than anything I was prepared. I took the entire summer of 2013 to learn the laws of the game. Yes, I was already a sports fan, but being a fan of any sport doesn’t equate to a successful team owner in fantasy sports.
Earlier that year when this dream opportunity presented itself and I met with my potential new boss Matt Deutsch, he asked me “Do you play Fantasy Sports?” Knowing that I wanted this job more than anything I said “no, but I will take the summer and learn” and that I did. I started with every single book amazon sold on Fantasy Sports. I wanted to learn the history of fantasy sports first. I knew with that foundation I would have the proper respect for the industry and how, why and where it began. The next learning block was checking out every different site that offers fantasy football and read. For days, hour’s weeks, I read. All the different scoring systems, types of leagues, rules and previous player stats. I reached out to a network of friends that I knew already played fantasy football. As soon as I told them about my new potential opportunity, I asked them to do some mock drafts with me. Having them by my side telling me why some of my picks had more value than others was a helpful advantage. I have some friends that consider bye weeks as a priority in their draft and some who looked at the playing field. Was it a dome? Are they good in other weather and what does their schedule look like. I surveyed all I learned and took the last weekend before my first show, which was Labor Day weekend and I stayed in doing mock drafts solo. One after the other. Sounds tedious, yeah, it sure was, but I quickly learned the player pool, had that seasons bye weeks memorized and my mind was filled with enough stats and player news that I had no fear about going live on air that night for my first show.
During that same time frame I was also still very active in the adult entertainment business. Let’s just say my schedule was intense. I was in NYC every Sunday and Monday for my show. I would watch every game Sunday and take notes to make my show prep easy for Monday. Monday night my show was from 11pm-12am ET. Tuesday mornings I was back at the airport for a 6am flight. I would fly back to LA and be on set by 10:00am to produce and direct my own line of movies. For the next three days I would be on set every day, doing paperwork and books all night. Thursday nights I would take a red eye to my next Feature booking where I would be till I landed back in NYC Sunday Morning. It was grueling, but it was all, part of a master plan.
The next day after my first show I was on set talking with my production manager, who was an aggressive fantasy football player. Something hit me during our conversation. I was already playing fantasy football every time I booked the talent for my movies. See, I needed 5 scenes for each movie. So I need 5 strong players for the line up. I would break down the cast line up by many factors, just like in fantasy football. There were so many similarities we later added a segment on my show that season call Front of the Box or Back of the box. It was my own version of start em sit em, using the hotness of the talent I was hiring and who would take up the majority of the real estate on the front of the box cover. Just like the importance of a winning starting line up.
When I would take my weekend feature-dancing gig there were also some fantasy factors. Let’s say I was doing six shows over the weekend. I would survey the club, most spots I visited once year for about 20 years, so it was like home field advantage, I knew their crowd routine. I knew when I would wear each costume and what type of music I would choose for each crowd. It was about maximizing each option and getting the most value for each choice made. Everything started to look like a fantasy football line up to me.
Growing up in the small town of Easton, PA sports were all around me. My brother and I both played basketball. My Mom was a basketball Mom at Lafayette College and we would go to almost all of their home games. My Dad was the consummate football fan, minus one key detail. My dad had an unnecessarily strong distain for sports broadcasters, so we watched all games with no volume, while Italian music blared through the house. This presented a challenge for me to learn the game, but it also made me pay attention and listen to my brother and my dad talk about the calls and plays during commercials. I memorized the actions of the referees so I would know what was going on during the game. During this same time I also had an extensive sports trading card collection. It was that card collection that taught me my first lesson in the art of the trade.
Then in 1996 HBO release the hit show Arliss. Arliss was played by Robert Wuhl it the situational comedy about Arliss Michaels, a sports agent and his clients. It was the most awesome showcase of the most prolific athletes of that time. It showcased athletes and humanized them on a level that was unseen to date. It was a time when athletes weren’t as trained on public relations and they weren’t all good actors. They all just played themselves that was one of the best parts of the show. As a sports fan seeing my favorite athletes in a different light was top-notch entertainment. It also provided me a glimpse of the business of the sports world, I was so intrigued. That show inspired me to lean more about individual athletes. I started to read endless sports autobiographies and had a desire to learn more about the business of sports.
That inspiration never left me and I give it a ton of credit to where I am right now.
All the information I had already collected over the years made my on air conversation more fluid while showing that I knew some history in sports.
So you can see a classic mix of fantasy and sports in my life and how they tied together the night of my first show was what I would call magic. As we were getting set up in the studio that night for my first show I heard a familiar voice over that air. To my surprise, Robert Wuhl, yes from Arliss does a show on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and it airs right before mine. As he was closing out of his show, I hear him say “Coming up next; Lisa Ann does fantasy” my mind was blown. It was one of those moments where I felt like I was truly in the right place at the right time. I was inspired and motivated by the turn of events. It was then I knew this was my new home and I would work towards making this my new life.
My first fantasy football season I also won my first trophy in the SiriusXM Celebrity League. It wasn’t easy. Remember my schedule was just insane and I had to make most of my last minute swaps on my phone, which we all know, just isn’t as easy as on your computer. I would be finished at the club by 3 am Sunday morning and at the airport by 5am. I couldn’t sleep because I had to set my best line up possible only to worry my entire flight that there may be a last minute line up change or two. I would land, turn on my phone and start the obsession. What I realized was, I was not the only one. As I would walk off the plane I would notice how many fantasy players there were. We were all locked on our phones. The slow walk to baggage claim, the wait in line for a cab, reading, making changes, reading injury reports and obsessing. If there was a flight delay, I would be sitting there wondering if we would land in time for me to log in before line-ups locked. It was a chaotic time, but I made it work.
One thing no one knew at this time was that I was secretly planning my retirement for the adult entertainment business. The goal was to tie up all of my loose ends and silently walk away at the end of 2014. I told no one. I had a plan and this new career was facilitating me to not only have new options, but to have a new focus. I was excited about all I was learning. The more games I watched and the more I read the more I felt I would walk into the studio and effortlessly do my show every Monday night.
In my first year with SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio I had the pleasure of meeting more of the hosts from the network. I did a lot of call in spots on other hosts show to promote my show. Everyone was very open-minded and no one made me feel judged for my other career. I quickly learned was that I was meeting some of the nicest people I had ever met in my life. I call my boss Matt Deutsch the “Lorne Michaels” of Fantasy Sports because he has pulled together some of the most knowledgeable, interesting people I had every seen culminated in one place. Very similar to Saturday Night Live if you think about it. His most important goal he tells me is working with nice people, people who care and people who help each other. He has not only reached but also exceeded that goal. There was no doubt that I was becoming a part of something very special. Something I would be very proud to remain a part of.
All of these factors played a role in my retirement decision, but more than that they play a role that changed my life forever, for the better. After 24 years of traveling constantly, working in a bit of chaos and sleeping no more than four hours a day, I have finally found my sweet spot. I have a purpose to downtime. I can watch endless games of any sport and be better at what I do. I am loving the down time, the alone time and more than anything the study time. I hadn’t had the need to learn many new things and I totally forgot about my thirst for knowledge. Sports knowledge my favorite learning materials since childhood, yeah, there is no doubt; I am where I am supposed to be.
Now, we all know there are no guarantees in life. So each year I live in a little fear about my job security in my new world. That little fear is not a totally positive self-motivator. By the end of my first fantasy football season, I was offered to stay and cover fantasy basketball. That was a no brainer. Basketball will always be my first love. After basketball season, I had the summer off for my lack of baseball knowledge. I took that summer off and did what you expect I should. I learned the game of baseball. The rules, the player positions and the history of the game. When it was time to start back up with “Lisa Ann Does Fantasy” in the fall of 2014, I was able to break the news to Matt that I was up for the fantasy baseball challenge. I asked him if I could be invited to be a part of a host fantasy baseball league for the upcoming season. I knew one thing, if I learned baseball I would be able to stay on air all year. I also knew at the end of that same year I would be telling the world about my retirement. This is when I say I traded in my fantasy life for fantasy sports.