Black history month: celebrating those in sports media

From college games to professional games, there is a hidden agenda that is not discussed.

Sports media has been a big industry, revolutionizing digital media and a plethora of jobs. As a result, there are more opportunities than ever for journalists vying to work in this desired field.

As a person who is starting in sports media, it is both thrilling and petrifying at the same time because it reminds me that sports media remains a predominantly white system.

I covered numerous games and events at Ferris as a journalist, ranging from every sport, from GLIAC runs to the opening night of basketball seasons.

Before I was a journalist at Ferris, I worked as a videographer for high school games.

Each area I walked into was filled with fans and full of vigor, and I was happy this was the career I was choosing. But, when I made my way to the press box or field, I realized the slow truth of working in sports media.

I noticed how many people were there, and then I realized how few looked like me, a person of color.

Many of the jobs in sports media are held by white males. While this is the reality of sports media, Ferris’ social media manager and award-winning reporter Sandy Gholston found opportunities despite this.

“There was a bit of a both-ways period of adjustment, [while] covering sports in communities with little to no diversity.” Gholston said. “Being different from what people were probably accustomed to, I welcomed opportunities to build bridges and break down barriers through diverse representation. As a result, I had some great conversations.”

Gholston started his journalism career with the Pioneer. He won multiple awards for his reporting on FSU Athletics, and he won an Associated Press award for his coverage on the heart-rending death of a Ferris State football student-athlete in 2002.

“I have had multiple opportunities to work in different aspects of sports media, including [as] a columnist, writer and editor at the Torch as a sportswriter. In addition, I have always sought to explore my interests to develop new talents, such as photography. The journey has had its challenges along the way, of course, but any journey that’s worth it usually does,” Gholston said.

Gholston currently works as a News Services and Social Media Manager for Ferris. He also works on the radio as an on-air analyst/announcer for basketball in his free time. He is also the founder and CEO of SG3 Communications, which specializes in social media.

“Along the way, I made lifelong friends and maybe changed some hearts and minds. Black men and other aspiring minority media figures should understand that they may have an extra burden of proof to earn the same opportunities and rewards.” Gholston said. “I believe that it’s wise to have this understanding going into it to channel the emotions that could be felt into positive motivation that drives you to self-improvement and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Don’t duck the challenge. Sometimes opportunity is disguised as a challenge.”

Just like how Gholston has adjusted along with his successful career, Black individuals across America learn ways to adapt. Sports communications senior Travis Hicks is one of those individuals learning to adjust and transition towards his long-term career.

“Ever since I was younger, I had many role models in sports media, especially Black journalists that inspired me towards sports media,” Hicks said. “Within my experience in sports media, it has been good with so many opportunities I have come across, but also different from being the one or a handful of individuals who are from a different background.”

Hicks currently works as a sports reporter for Ferris State Athletics and for the Royal Oak Leprechauns, a minor league baseball team. He has also had the opportunity to conduct ESPN interviews.

“It has been a blessing to get multiple opportunities at Ferris, Royal Oak and many different occasions through the start of my career. I always wanted to beat the stereotype aimed towards Black people in sports. So I worked harder than most to become a better sports reporter, and with the help of many people, I got to make that a reality.”

Athough there may not be many Black individuals within sports media around the globe, there are people who are leaving a strong mark in sports media, no matter the circumstances.