When I asked Mia Khalifa what got her into sports commentary, she told me that “I’ve always been a loud, obnoxious, opinionated sports fan. So this was just the logical next step.”
Mia has had quite a dynamic career. After leaving the adult entertainment industry in 2015, she worked as a paralegal and a bookkeeper in Miami, before eventually transitioning into sports commentary. She also streams on Twitch, and maintains a healthy quantity of dedicated fans on Patreon. When approached by prolific sports commentator Tyler Coe about co-hosting the revival of Sportsball, a comedy sports show produced by Rooster Teeth, she said that “he didn’t even get the sentence out before I agreed to it.”
“Everyone in the room just collectively clenched their buttholes ’cause they don’t know what I’m gonna say”
She’s always been quite a big fan of Rooster Teeth (she thought “that one thing they did was great”) and was a guest on the Always Open podcast where she met Tyler. “Him and I really, really hit it off about fantasy football … just spent the entire episode just talking about sports, and then he approached me and asked me if I would be interested in co-hosting a sports show with him.”
It’s this chemistry with Tyler that Mia thinks adds so much to the new run of Sportsball, which aired its first episode last night. “It doesn’t really feel like a show,” she said. “I know a lot of other sports fans, but they’re kind of concentrated on one sport in particular. He’s just a fan of sports … it doesn’t matter what is going on, if it has to do with sports, we’re watching it and we pick a side and we have an opinion about that side.”
“It didn’t feel like, ‘Okay, aaaaand… action!’ It was just very me and Tyler having a conversation, and I actually didn’t even realize when we stopped recording, because him and I just kept talking about what happened at Wimbledon, and Vladimir Putin after.”
“I’ve always been a loud, obnoxious, opinionated sports fan. So this was just the logical next step”
Mia Khalifa has been commentating sports for a few years now, and is hopping into Sportsball after leaving Out of Bounds, a daily sports show published on the Complex News YouTube channel with co-host Gilbert Arenas, in February. She’s already enjoying Sportsball a lot more. “It’s such a great contrast to the show that I was doing before, because I was nowhere near as happy [as I am] on this show because the chemistry was nowhere near this level.”
For a show with the words ‘sports’ and ‘ball’ mashed together to form the title, Sportsball doesn’t rely on you knowing an awful lot whatsoever about football or baseball. “We’re not throwing stats at people, we are loose-heartedly commentating on what’s going on in sports,” said Mia. “this is a good show for people who don’t follow closely, not to really learn much about sports but to get a good laugh about topical things happening in the sports world.”
The original show ran in 2015, with Tyler Coe as the main host and recurring appearances from Joel Heyman and Jack Pattillo. Due to weak viewership and the end of the football season at the time sucking the motivation to continue out of its hosts, the original Sportsball ended before it’s finale, with Tyler making the announcement. It seems like Mia Khalifa’s guest appearance on Always Open and the resulting conversation the two had about fantasy football may have been a sort of catalyst for its revival.
One big criticism that many fans of the original run of Sportsball had was that the show focused a lot on football, and not an awful lot else. For the new season, however, it looks like this will be far from the case. “We actually haven’t even mentioned football once this [first] episode,” Mia said, herself a fan of quite a broad range of different sports. “There will be many other sports talked about, not just football. Football is never the only thing going on during football season, which is what everybody loves about fall, how many options they have.
“So we will be talking baseball, we will be talking premier league soccer, we’ll be talking hockey for sure, because I’m on the show and that’s my biggest interest, we’ll be talking basketball… absolutely everything.”
“We’re not throwing stats at people, we are loose-heartedly commentating on what’s going on in sports,”
As well as this resolution, fans of the show’s original run will be glad to see some reference to it in the first episode of the Sportsball revival. “I think there’s an easter egg moment that I love. It correlates between the way that the last wave of Sportsball ended, and the way this one is beginning. I think that fans of Sportsball past will definitely pick up on it.”
I asked Mia Khalifa if she had any closing statements after we’d finished talking. She laughed, and told me: “Everyone in the room just collectively clenched their buttholes ’cause they don’t know what I’m gonna say… and that’s my closing statement. Quote me on that.”