Behind some of the top talent working in sports broadcasting today, you’ll notice a commonality: Many of them are represented by Debbie Spander, senior vice president of broadcasting and coaching at Wasserman.
The daughter of a longtime sports columnist in the Bay Area, Spander had an early introduction to the media world. After college, Spander took the next step in her career by earning a law degree from UCLA.
After law school, Spander rose through the ranks of the sports law and agent world, including stints as a vice president at FOX Sports Net and MTV Entertainment. In 2012, she joined Wasserman as the vice president of broadcasting before being promoted to her SVP role in 2016.
Spander felt drawn to working with broadcasting talent after noticing a trend of people in the profession being treated unfairly by leagues and networks in the early 2000s.
“I decided that at some point I wanted to work directly with talent because after September 11 and the recession, it seemed that the talent was always getting squeezed by the networks. So, I saw that happening and I wanted to help at that point. I had a couple friends who played in the NFL and at UCLA who were retiring, and I helped them get some small deals broadcasting and I thought, ‘I think I can do this.’”
Spander found clients almost immediately and was soon asked by Wasserman to launch its broadcast division. Her client base quickly multiplied significantly as she began representing coaches and athletes transitioning into broadcasting like Brian Scalabrine and Aaron Boone.
After all the changes that broadcasting has undergone in the last decade, Spander prides herself on embracing change and encouraging clients to achieve their dreams.
“There’s a number of sports broadcasting agencies out there and everyone does a good job in their own way. I think the thing that Wasserman does is we have very personalized service and we’re available 16 to 17 hours a day for a lot of former players who are used to being able to call or text their agents at all hours. If our clients need us, we do all we can.”
For Wasserman clients, Spander and the group’s other agents often help professional athletes find broadcasting opportunities during their playing careers. In addition to being somewhat of a trailblazer herself as a woman in a male-dominated subsect of sport, Spander represents clients like Candace Parker and Meghan McPeak who are breaking down walls within broadcasting themselves. Parker recently became one of the first women to call both NBA and NCAA men’s basketball games while still playing in the WNBA.
“I didn’t specifically seek them out to have them break barriers, but we’re like-minded and we all embrace the opportunities that are there for them. This was a really exciting fall between what Candace and Meghan were able to accomplish.”
With all that she has accomplished in her career, Spander advises young women to be active networkers in order to get their careers in sport off of the ground.
“Get out there and meet as many people as you can. Get internships while you’re in college and law school and just start working in the industry. Don’t look at your gender as a barrier and follow your dreams.”