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Highlighting Hispanics in sports journalism

MJ Acosta Ruiz from NFL Media, Andrez Cantor from Telemundo Deportes, Hugo Balta from The Chicago Reporter, Marly Rivera from ESPN, and Luiz Gerardo Bucci from CNN Deportes are all successful Hispanics in the sports journalism field. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Editor’s Note: Contains mentions of sexual assault. 

Sports journalism may present itself as shallow in the eyes of many. But the profession goes a lot deeper than most would expect. Anything from deciding who to start or bench in your fantasy league to finding out if your favorite player is out with an injury or not, sports journalists ensure that the information sports fanatics need is available. 

However, sports journalists behind the work tend to go unnoticed, especially for those in marginalized communities. In observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, it is critical to look at journalists who work to empower other Hispanics by surpassing borders and languages. 

MJ Acosta Ruiz 

MJ Acosta Ruiz is the host of “NFL Total Access” at NFL Media. She is currently the only bilingual Dominican woman on air at NFL Network. Ruiz grew up in Washington Heights, New York but moved to Miami in her teen years. Growing up, Ruiz spent most of her time on the basketball court given her father’s background playing for the Dominican National Team. 

Ruiz is also a victim of sexual assault in the workplace but acknowledges how she was not alone in her experiences. 

“The person who gave me (one of my first) job(s) in the field was also the person who sexually assaulted me. And that was something that I never spoke about…We are conditioned to think [it’s our fault] and victim blame: ‘I did it to myself.’ But it wasn’t my fault,” Ruiz said in an interview with People CHICA. “I wish I knew that there were people that not only went through it but that would support me, lift me up, and encourage me to do what I had to do for myself.” 

Ruiz has also been an avid advocate for naturalistas in sports journalism. Naturalistas are people who choose to style their hair in its natural state. In the case of Ruiz, her hair is naturally curly which sets to an afro. For the longest time, hair like Ruiz’s would be considered unprofessional and would cause primarily people of color to lose out on job opportunities. 

Andres Cantor 

Andres Cantor is an Argentinean sportscaster for Telemundo Deportes. Cantor has dedicated a generous portion of his career to soccer. Going back to the 1990 FIFA World Cup, Cantor popularized the iconic “¡GOL!” scream to U.S. audiences. Cantor was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina but moved to Southern California in his teen years where he attended San Marino High School and graduated from the University of Southern California. 

Cantor has experience in both Spanish and English commentating. His first major assignment in English commentating was the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, where he covered both men’s and women’s soccer matches for NBC. Cantor has continued working for NBC, covering the most recent Olympics in Tokyo. Cantor’s legacy lives on through his son, Nico, who works for CBS Sports, Univision and TUDN. 

Hugo Balta 

Hugo Balta is currently an associate editor for The Chicago Reporter, a publication dedicated to documenting Chicago’s issues dealing with race and poverty. Prior to his commitment with The Chicago Reporter, Balta was senior director of Hispanic initiatives at ESPN. In this role, Balta established short- and long-term projects with the goal to better accommodate the Hispanic sports fanbase. 

Marly Rivera 

Marly Rivera is a Puerto Rican sportswriter at ESPN and ESPN Deportes. According to her ESPN Press Room bio, Rivera does most of her work from New York, focusing on the New York Yankees. Rivera is one of only a few women in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and is the only Latina in the association. Her contributions extend beyond her professional career. Rivera used her professional platform to highlight the tragedies in Puerto Rico following the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Maria. 

Rivera covered a game between the Minnesota Twins and the current-day Cleveland Guardians. This game was played in Rivera’s hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

“While my home country, including my family, was still struggling with damaged homes and months with no electricity, it was an honor to bring much needed joy to my beautiful island,” Rivera said. 

Luis Gerardo Bucci 

Luis Gerardo Bucci is a Venezuelan born sportscaster for CNN Deportes. Starting his career in Venezuela, Bucci earned his degree in sports journalism from the Universidad Santa Maria in Caracas. Bucci moved to Miami, Florida in 2008, joining Telemundo Media. Bucci then joined CNN Deportes in 2011 as a sports anchor for a little over a decade. There, Bucci influenced the Hispanic community via sports. Currently, Bucci is working as a sports anchor for NBCUniversal where he covered the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. 

Having these wonderful Hispanic sports journalists serving as trailblazers in the industry while also paving the way for a younger generation of ambitious and marginalized journalists is exhilarating. It shows that, despite being in a system that tends to favor white men, Hispanics, and other people of color, their talent to the table.

Information provided by NFL Media, NBC Universal, ESPN and CNN Deportes.

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and can be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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Highlighting Hispanics in sports journalism