Member Spotlight: Sheil Kapadia

SAinSports got in touch with ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia to get his views on the NFL, Colin Kaepernick and South Asians working in sports. Check out the interview below.

Current Location: Seattle, WA

Occupation and/or Organization: ESPN Seahawks Beat Reporter

Why did you choose to have a career in the sports industry?
Sports were always just my primary interest growing up. Whether it was watching the Philadelphia teams, reading the newspaper, listening to sports-talk radio or playing with friends in my neighborhood, they were just a big part of my life. When I was finishing up high school and deciding what I wanted to do in college, I figured I might as well try to get paid for something I enjoy doing anyway. And that’s how I landed on a career in sports.

What is the best part of working in this industry?
It’s fun and unpredictable. That might sound lame, but it’s the truth. No two days are going to be the same. When you’re covering a game – whether it’s high school, college or professional – you have no idea what’s going to happen beforehand. You analyze matchups, interview players and coaches and make predictions. Then the game starts, and oftentimes it goes in a different direction. I love covering practices in May when the teams are planting the seeds for who they want to become in November and December. The games are always a blast. And there’s a huge difference among the players. Some are fighting for a job on the practice squad; others are highly-paid superstars. That makes for a fascinating dynamic.

I enjoy going to work and doing my job. By the second or third day of vacation, I’m usually ready to get back at it.

Advice for people trying to break into the sports industry?
Make sure you’re able to bring something different to the table. Every faction of the industry is getting more competitive each year. When you are trying to figure out your path, try to come up with new ideas. If it’s in journalism, when you start covering a team, look at what your competitors are doing and try to make sure you’re adding something different with your coverage. Find a way to produce quality content and set yourself apart. The same goes when applying for internships. Employers want to know how you can help them. What’s your area of expertise? Or are you able to do a bunch of things well?They’re not looking for someone they’ll have to babysit everyday. They want someone who can be an asset to what they’re trying to accomplish.

What has the reaction been with the Seattle Seahawks players as Colin Kaepernick continues to take a knee during the national anthem?
Kaepernick has a ton of support in the Seahawks’ locker room. Guys like wide receiver Doug Baldwin, cornerback Jeremy Lane and defensive end Michael Bennett have all applauded him for his efforts. Lane sat for the national anthem during the preseason, but once the regular season started, the Seahawks decided to link arms as a demonstration of unity. The Seahawks want to follow Kaepernick in terms of bringing attention to topics like social and racial injustice and shootings by police. But they also want to make sure they are following through and using their platform to help find solutions. Baldwin has set up a “Building Briges” task force and routinely meets with policy-makers and members of law enforcement.

You use to cover the Philadelphia Eagles before the Seahawks and having been to multiple NFL stadiums, how loud can it really get at CenturyLink Field?
Honestly, that’s tough to say since I sit in the press box. The Eagles’ fan base was in a much different place when I covered the team than where the Seahawks’ fan base is now. The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, and there’s a constant feeling there that something is about to go wrong. The Seahawks are in the golden era of their franchise, so fans have a much rosier outlook.

Some say the NBA is the most progressive sports leagues in the country, what are your thoughts on the NFL in this regard?
I have not covered the NBA (although I am a fan), so I can only go by what the players have told me. Guys like Richard Sherman have mentioned how the NBA encourages players to show their personalities. That’s obviously not the case in the NFL with the league clamping down on taunting and celebration penalties. In terms of analytics and social media, I’m not sure there’s much about the NFL that would be described as progressive. But I haven’t done a ton of research on this topic to have a detailed, well-informed opinion.
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Sheil Kapadia