Sarah Phillips is a former columnist for ESPN.com. Phillips was a rising contributor at the Worldwide Leader. She produced her first column for the website when she was 21-years-old in September 2011. Phillips was apparently very well regarded by those who personally knew her, according to multiple local columns in Oregon. Chris Singer, a former co-ed soccer teammate of Phillips, described her as being "nice, friendly [and] funny" to The Daily Barometer. Singer also described Phillips athletically as "[a] good soccer player."
By all accounts, Phillips was well on her way to becoming a star among sports writers and bloggers. In May 2012, that all changed.
Deadspin, a sports blog known for taking aim at ESPN's personalities, published a column claiming that Sarah Phillips may or may not be a real person. The original column and subsequent Deadspin blogs on Phillips received over one million views in total. The story was then repurposed by the New York Times, Huffington Post, USA Today and BLEACHER REPORT, among others.
The sports world was buzzing: Was Phillips an attractive 22-year-old female sports writer, or had ESPN been bamboozled by a fictional character created by a ghostwriter?
Celebrities from Chad Ochocino to Roger Ebert tweeted about the potential scandal.
"Sarah Phillips" trended worldwide on Twitter on May 1st, 2012.
"Sarah Phillips ESPN" was "Trending Now" on Yahoo! on May 2nd, 2012.
Amidst the chaos and fear of ongoing backlash, ESPN abruptly ended its relationship with Phillips.
Sports bloggers continued to produce columns to keep the story alive, but many readers lost interest when a reader by the name of John Harrison published a sting on Deadspin. Harrison admittedly fabricated allegations against Phillips, submitted his story to Deadspin, and documented his experience in his personal blog. Interest in subsequent columns about Phillips, comprised mostly of unnamed sources and conjecture, declined significantly.
Commenters began openly questioning Deadspin:
Readers continued to tweet @SarahPhilli with a higher frequency, primarily asking whether or not she was a real person. The story was incomplete.
Phillips has been contacted for the past three months with interview requests from sports bloggers. Recently, she was contacted by ABC's 20/20 to provide her side of the story. Phillips has declined all requests.
This proposed documentary will take viewers inside the life of Sarah Phillips. Phillips will detail her experiences from unknown sports forum poster in December 2010, to ESPN.com contributor in September 2011, all the way to making international headlines in May 2012. Most importantly, the documentary will answer the question: Who is Sarah Phillips?
The minimum Kickstarter goal will cover the cost of a professional production crew (audio and video) and an experienced film editor.
If our goal is not fulfilled, then the Sarah Phillips story will remain incomplete.
Please check back daily for updates.
Video credit: Slate News Channel