As a young girl sitting in the Georgia Dome with her father every Sunday, Loni Gibson experienced a culture of passion and a world full of stories. But Gibson never imagined she would be the one to tell those stories.
Gibson’s father Reuben -who had a short stint as a running back with the Falcons in 1977- instilled a love of sport into her at a young age.
“Attending Atlanta Falcons games with my Dad as a child is one of my favorite pastimes,” she said.
But, originally, the allure of the television spotlight drove Gibson’s career plans.
“I always knew that I wanted to be on TV,” she said, “Yet, I knew I didn’t want to be an actress. That’s when I found broadcast journalism.”
However, the direction for her television career would later be shaped by her father and her fond childhood memories of Sunday afternoons in the Dome.
“My Dad helped me find my love of sports,” Gibson said, “I think that’s what made [sports] a thing for me, because it was our Sunday thing.”
As a student in the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism, Gibson has found plenty of compelling stories to be told, particularly those involving the passion of college athletes.
“I feel like when you’re talking to college athletes there’s a little more passion in it than [with professionals],” she said “Because they’re trying to get to that next level, and they know that this is what it depends on.”
The human element, specifically the zeal of sports fans, particularly engages Gibson. And makes for entertaining stories.
“[Sports] allows people to interact with something that’s their favorite pastime,” Gibson said, “It truly evokes passion through fans. It helps people tell their own story. I think that’s what reporting is all about — the people, and that’s what makes sports my thing.”
Gibson also enjoys exploring the physical and emotional journey of the athlete.
“I like knowing how people feel,” she said. “I’m more interested in seeing [situations] like: ‘Oh, she just made her first point as a Lady Dog, and it was a three point shot. How does that make her feel? What do her teammates think? She’s a freshman and her first shot was a three point; what does the team think about her?’”
And her love of sports even overcomes her love of the spotlight.
“Sports is what I really wanna do,” Gibson said, “Obviously, if someone wanted me to anchor their show, I wouldn’t say no, but I want to sideline report college sports.”