ESPN Columnist Fired Amidst Identity Controversy

Who is Sarah Phillips? The question that is going viral.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

Amid the world of 'professional' internet bloggers, there sometimes lies the underneath question: are they who they really say they are?

Normally, questions such as this are left to the mom and pop websites. The ones with off-the-wall people just looking to be heard and maybe make a buck. Big sites such as CBSSports, YAHOO, and ESPN usually don't have to deal with this type of issue, as it's assumed they are a little more thorough in who they hire. But the thing is, even with these sites, questions arise, and for one young blogger, these questions of identity got her canned.

Sarah Phillips, until recently, was a columnist for ESPN's Page 2 (now known as Playbook), and specialized in articles concerning sports gambling.

Phillips, at the young age of 22, rose out of obscurity to become a somewhat well known writer. Thirteen months ago, she was just a commenter on the message board of, a gambling website, before they plucked her up and put her to work.

Phillips' efforts for the website earned her the attention of ESPN editor Lynn Hoppes just months later. Hoppes was so impressed with her work that she was tapped to write a weekly article for the website. And just like that, Phillips went from being the proverbial 'nobody' to a quasi-internet star.

With her 'stardom', however, rose questions about the validity of her identity. In fact,, a unique sports website in its own right, recently wrote a piece that offered up a few inconsistencies and raised some questions. Is Phillips an actual person or is that persona just used for a ghost writer?

The questions, and evidence behind them, produced by the website were enough to prompt ESPN to sever ties with the columnist. Phillips, though, still insists she is who she says she is and took to Twitter to defend herself.

"I never wanted to be in sports media. It just happened. I concealed my identity so I wasn't a 'gambler' to future employers."

"I made poor choices with who to trust. I'll correct that moving forward. It's not an excuse."

"My avatar is me. My YouTube video is me. I enjoyed my time with ESPN. They were great to me."

"I have severed ties with many people today. I need a new circle. I need to get back to being a 22-year-old.


Personally, this whole thing looks like much to do about nothing. It looks as it is a contrived assault made by jealous people against a talented girl who just happened to make the most out of a break she received.

It's a shame that she had to lose her job over wanting to keep a small sense on anonymity by not plastering herself all over podcasts or numerous videos.

Thinking more about it, something tells me that she will land on her feet and be just fine in the end. The attention created by and her firing all but assures that.

James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on