Oberlin Blogs

From Oberlin to Sports Illustrated

April 30, 2020

Jason Hewitt ’20

Perspective is one of the most important aspects to journalism. I believe that every single voice matters, because there is a story behind that voice.

I want to take this time to thank every single black journalist who has paved the way for me to be in the position I am in today. Without trailblazers in journalism such as Ida B. Wells and Frederick Douglass who have used their perspectives to tell their stories despite the oppression they faced, my voice would be diminished.

With that being said, being a black journalist can be tough at times, especially when there aren’t many black people in the field in comparison to our white counterparts.

There’s a certain type of bias that black journalists have to face. One of the most annoying obstacles that black people have to face is the stupid idea that they can’t articulate themselves in a professional setting. Gotta love that stereotype, huh? That’s just one of many barriers that black journalists have had to face for decades if not centuries. If it wasn’t their articulation, they would be judged for the way they dress, similarly to how racist Americans treat black athletes compared to white athletes (i.e. Cam Newton). 

That’s why I have such great admiration for critically-acclaimed black journalists such as Oberlin alum Chris Broussard, Jemele Hill, Stephen A. Smith, and the late great Stuart Scott. Their perspectives were already unique in the world of sports journalism because of their collective blackness. Their incorporation of black culture into sports media has been one of my favorite things to see on big sports platforms like Fox Sports and ESPN.

Their voices were expressed through the stories they told, and that was always really inspiring to me.

My voice in particular took a while to be amplified by an actual news platform. My story in the field of journalism has been one wild rollercoaster. When I first committed to Oberlin for football, I wanted to major in psychology and become a physical therapist. Shortly after my freshman year began, I realized that my true calling was to write stories for the public to hear through my own unique perspective.

I wanted to use a platform to share my own perspective on sports events, but I didn’t have any work experience in the news.

The only true advantages I had at that point were my Oberlin education and my experience as a college football player. The perspective of being a black college football player is a very unique one to have, especially in journalism. So I used it to my advantage and came up with the idea to primarily write about football. I knew I had to find a platform to write on from somewhere, so I created the opportunity for myself by creating my own website called “Golden Standard Sports.”

On the “Golden Standard Sports” website, I wrote about popular sports stories that were relevant to current events. I even did some work on it for a winter term project. I covered events such as the 2017 NBA Finals and Super Bowl LII on the site. I even covered boxing at one point. My support system showed a ton of love and got the website a ton of views. After “Golden Standard Sports” gained some more popularity, The Oberlin Review hit me up. I started writing stories for the Review in January 2018, and I also started writing for The Grape in August 2019. Don’t worry; my articles on The Grape aren’t that weird.

I remember the day that I received a writing position with SBNation as the contributing writer for its Carolina Panthers website. I got the position by emailing the head editor and asking if I could join the staff. I sent him my resume, cover letter, and some articles I wrote at Oberlin. He loved my work and welcomed me to the staff. One of the most significant things about this is that I’m a huge Panthers fan. If anybody saw someone on this campus with a Cam Newton or Christian McCaffrey jersey on, there’s a ninety-nine percent chance that I was that person. Imagine the excitement I had when I found out I got to write for my favorite football team on a national platform.

My proudest moment as a journalist so far was when I was offered to write for the Panthers on Sports Illustrated. This was so crazy, because the offer came out of absolutely nowhere. My editor randomly hit me up one day and said that he really enjoyed my work with SBNation and wanted me to join the staff. As much as I love the guys at SBNation, the Sports Illustrated offer was one that I could not refuse. I was in disbelief.

I knew that my work was solid, but I didn’t think that it would get this far at the age of twenty-one. As of right now (the time in which this article was published), I have been writing for Sports Illustrated for a few months. It’s actually pretty wild to me. I have enjoyed my staff very much. Every member is extremely dedicated and talented, and it’s a blessing to be among some of the best writers in sports journalism. With all that being said, I am pretty happy with where I am in my career, but I still have a long way to go. I’m excited for the journey ahead.

I understand that there are not many black journalists out there, at least compared to the overwhelming majority. Because of this, many black voices aren’t being heard enough in not only sports, but every type of media.

For instance, when it comes to both SBNation and Sports Illustrated (Panthers), I was the only black person on staff. That’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to engage with journalism. I finally saw the value of my perspective and the potential to convey stories through that perspective. I’m continuing to better my craft every single day, because I want to be an inspiration to future black journalists someday. More black voices need to be heard in the media. Period.

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