Anita Marks spends her weekday afternoons talking sports to buffs who tune into ESPN 1400 in Miami. But Monday through Sunday, she’s living them.
A former quarterback for professional women’s tackle football, Marks has spent her entire life surrounded by sports, from her days growing up in South Florida to her days of dominance on the flag football field at USF. Marks’ love for sports stemmed from her family’s long history of athletic competition and the environment it provided. Her father played for the Miami Hurricanes, so she naturally grew up a Hurricane fan.
“I grew up in an athletic family,” Marks said. “If you were to ask somebody one characteristic about me, I would say that 80 percent would say I’m competitive. I love to compete and play sports. Even when I’m golfing, I play skins.
“When you play a team-oriented sport like football, there is nothing like the camaraderie and the unity that it creates. Everybody has to work together to make it work.”
When USF takes on Miami this weekend in the Orange Bowl, she faces the obstacle of opting between the team she grew up supporting and her alma mater.
“When I went to USF there was no football team,” Marks said. “I always felt that was the one component the University was missing. Since they have established one, I always keep a keen eye on their success. There is a huge part of my heart that would love to see the University of South Florida victorious this upcoming weekend.”
Marks graduated from USF in 1992 with a B.A. in Communications. While at USF she participated in any intramural sport possible. According to Marks, her experience with sports and campus life enhanced her stay at USF.
“I really got involved in the intramural program,” Marks said. “(USF) intramurals made my experience all that much better. I played flag football, ultimate Frisbee, softball – whatever program they had, I participated in it. I lived in Fontana Hall for two years. It was a great time. It’s a great university. The fact that they have a football team now, it’s that much better.”
Following graduation, Marks headed back to Miami to pursue her dream of making sports her career. According to her Web site, www.anitamarks.com, she landed a job with CBS as a producer. Marks made her way back onto the field in 1999 as the starting quarterback for the Miami Fury, a professional women’s football team. Her career with the Fury spanned over four years before becoming the quarterback for the Florida Stingrays for one year.
Marks hopes that professional women’s sports can become more popular and thus change the marketing techniques.
“Unfortunately, what sells in women’s professional sports is sex,” Marks said. “Look at the wealthiest women pro athletes; they’re not those that are typically winners. They are people like Anna Kournikova, someone who has never won a major singles match but she’s making a ton of money.
“In the men’s arena, what sells are championship teams. People could care less if Tom Brady and Bill Belichick can model for Calvin Klein. What matters is that the Patriots are one of the best, if not the best team in the NFL. In regards to women, it’s not so much how well they can play, it’s, ‘Is somebody cute on the team?’ It’s a disappointing thing, but it is what it is.”
Marks hopes that her time spent on the radio and playing professional football will make her a trendsetter in the world of women’s professional football.
“Because of playing women’s professional football in South Florida, a lot of young girls are excited about that opportunity,” Marks said. “Hopefully, women’s professional football has an opportunity to let these women play and make a good living at it. I’m not sure with the way it’s going now that it will happen, but that would be something great. I feel like I’ve been a pioneer.”
Marks is optimistic about the future. She hopes to have a more syndicated national version of her radio show so people outside of the Miami area can listen. She also wants to break into the television scene. As for this weekend’s game, while she supports USF, she picked Miami to win 38-10.