It only takes a few words to make a splash. Long before Brent Musburger launched the Katherine Webb phenomenon, he helped ignite Jenn Sterger’s instant celebrity with a few words at another college football game. Sterger offers FOXSports.com her insight into what it’s like to go from an unknown to celebrity status in a few well-placed sentences.
The night of the 2013 BCS Championship Game, I was actually nowhere near a television. True story. But thanks to Twitter and the powers of the interwebs, I was fully aware something huge had happened during the game. And it had nothing to do with a lousy performance from Notre Dame. I had no idea who Katherine Webb was, or why I was being referred to in relation to her. I just knew I got that feeling. That kind of familiarity that only comes from having lived a situation yourself.
Getting “Internet Famous” nowadays isn’t as complicated as people make it out to be. It comes down to a few factors:
— Do you take good selfies?
— Do you own a grumpy cat?
— Do you know a silly dance that needs reviving in a prison yard?
— Does Brent Musburger muse about you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be the next Jenn Sterger or Katherine Webb.
The Internet has come a long way since I was discovered in 2005. Back then, Myspace wasn’t just a playground for Chris Hansen, and Facebook was “The” Facebook. The origins of “The Cowgirl,” as I was known, weren’t as immediate as those of Katherine Webb, who was instantly thrust into fame when Musberger singled out the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron on air during this past year’s BCS title game. My origins involved a lot of message board participation, a few internet-savvy tech geeks, and pure dumb luck. I had no Twitter handle through which to achieve instant success, because the world was still tweetless. People were (amazingly) able to go longer than five minutes without having to post a pic of their latest meal, complain about how tired they were, or better yet, insert themselves into a worldwide conversation on a topic they had no expertise or experience in.
Now? Not so much. We live in a world where we want what we want and we want it yesterday. No one wants to be the last to “know.” Random citizens are live-tweeting events that resonate across the globe.
I knew about Bin Laden’s capture before the White House even announced a press conference, thanks to the Twitter feed of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The future of communication is NOW, people. However, no one said it had to be eloquent … or fair.
Webb has handled every situation thrown at her with grace, including an otherwise cringe-worthy celebrity drowning show called Splash. Unfortunately, even someone so family-friendly and likable will still find her share of haters. The Internet is full of hearsay, opinion, and perception presented as fact. Think of it as a “cyber mob.” They can shower you with roses, but make no mistake, they’ve got a few stones in their pockets.
You can only navigate these shark-infested waters so long before the scent of blood has people baring their teeth. But if you’re going to hate on Katherine Webb, you should really be hating on the BCS. Because if we had better-matched football games, there wouldn’t be nearly as much time spent scanning the stands for Internet gold.
Look, I’m certainly no expert in predicting the sustainability of anyone who gets their start on the Internet, but I think a lot of a person’s success lies with the individual. At 23, Webb’s a hell of a lot more media-savvy than I ever was. And I never even dated a quarterback … for obvious reasons. Then again, I’m not Katherine Webb. So who am I to give her advice on her journey?
In the end, I think she’ll make it through. I mean, I did. I survived everything — even being dragged into the middle of the biggest NFL quarterback controversy of all time. I stared down Roger Goodell, NFL investigators, the paparazzi, the New York tabloids, the cyber/text-message bullying, and even worse, my own immaturity and naivety.
Maybe, just maybe — a girl can dream, can’t she? — Katherine Webb can learn a thing or two from my mistakes. But here’s my real hope: Maybe the media and entertainment executives, athletes, sports journalists, bloggers, and sports fans will also learn from the “Jenn Sterger Experience.” Maybe we’ll all be more compassionate toward the young women who get famous overnight, simply because they happen to stand out and a broadcaster needs to fill a break in the action.
As for me, well … nearly eight years later, I’m building something real and substantive. I’ve surrounded myself with good friends and better people. I’m taking acting classes, enrolled in the Groundlings, writing original scripts, and even co-hosting “The Steel Chair Slamcast” wrestling podcast. That’s right, I’m a band nerd and drama geek with a NASCAR and professional wrestling problem. And I’m perfectly OK with that. So fear not, my friends. I have not slipped into the bowels of Reddit. I’m just focused on finding my bliss, which, as it turns out, has nothing to do with push-up bras and sparkles.
The thing is, even with all its ups and downs, my journey has been good. And I hope Katherine Webb’s journey is even better. Because life’s too short to waste it on anything that doesn’t bring you personal fulfillment. And some of us have to learn that the hard way … in front of millions of people on the Internet.