Speakers

ESPN reporter talks race and gender in journalism

Kiran Ramsey | Digital Design Editor

Sarina Morales said she developed an interest in sports at an early age after watching baseball with her father on Saturday afternoons. However, she turned to sports journalism when she realized a woman wouldn't be accepted in the major leagues.

When ESPN reporter Sarina Morales was 11, she wanted to play center field for the New York Yankees — until she realized social barriers would prevent her from doing so.

Morales, a Syracuse University alumna, was the commemorative speaker for Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month. She discussed issues centered around intersectional identities and journalism in her speech on Thursday evening in E.S. Bird Library.

“We are all aware of institutionalized racism in this country. That’s real. It’s no joke,” Morales said. “Time and time again it’s become more of an awareness for us because of people like Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James (and) Carmelo Anthony.”

Morales went on to pass photos from her early days in baseball. She became interested in the sport after Saturday morning cartoons evolved into Saturday afternoons watching the New York Yankees baseball game with her dad. Morales started off in the Little Leagues and went on to play on three all-star teams. She was the only girl playing up until she was 17 years old.

Morales spoke about the adversity she faced as a woman playing in a male-dominated sport. She said she started off excited, but in later years her excitement turned into exhaustion.

“I was fighting to continue physically and mentally to play this game that I love and I should be able to play,” she said.

Despite having some tough moments on the team, Morales said she always remembered the famous words spoken by Tom Hanks: there’s no crying in baseball.

Morales decided that if she couldn’t play sports, she would write about them. But, she graduated during the market crash of 2008 — making it almost impossible to find a job, especially as a Latina.

She went from working in a creative agency in London, to a Nike field reporting job, to National Geographic and finally landed at ESPN.

The struggles she faced in the eight years since her graduation and her background both strengthened and weakened her opportunities, Morales said.

While having a Hispanic background helped her report on Hispanic athletes, her identity still disadvantaged her. Morales spoke on the pros and cons that every identity faces, but stressed that the way to achieve success rests in the ability to continue working. She said she reached many of her goals through the support of her family and those who believed in her.

Now that she finally works at her dream job, Morales only wishes that her presence will move and inspire people in the future.

“This is important, not just for the minorities, not just for the women, but for everyone. Because we have to even out the playing field right?” Morales said.

Morales ended her talk emphasizing the importance of community.

“For all those that are going to face a long road ahead of racism, sexism, all the ‘isms’ there … you have to think, ‘I’m paving the way now for the next (to come),’” Morales said.

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