ESPN is filled with talented Hispanic-Americans contributing across all platforms. In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, Front Row spoke with two of ESPN’s Hispanic journalists.
Max Bretos is a Cuban-American journalist who grew up in Miami. Bretos is a contributor to ESPN.com, an anchor on SportsCenter, ESPN Radio host of Coach & Bretos and host of the Max y Marly podcast with Marly Rivera. He also contributes to ESPN’s soccer coverage.
How did your Cuban heritage influence your journalism career?
Us Cubans were welcomed to the United States in our time of need and have now seen the wonders this country can do. That combination makes us aim as high as we can. That is instilled at an early age.
In what ways has ESPN allowed you to embrace your Cuban heritage?
Firstly, there is a comfort being Cuban at ESPN, for the main reason there are so many of us. Dan Le Batard, Jorge Sedano, Pedro Gomez, Eduardo Perez, CP Manny De La Fe and now Raul Ibanez. So, if I need to shoot the breeze, share cravings for Cuban food, or even do impromptu salsa sessions in the hallways, I am covered. In that sense, ESPN has allowed me to embrace my Cuban heritage.
I think the better question is how can I help ESPN embrace Cuban and Latino Heritage? That is my responsibility, to tell them what is important to us, so we can cover the stories that resonate in our community and are of interest to the entire ESPN audience.
I also am pushing for a Cuban cafe on campus to get our morning cafecito [Cuban coffee] and pastries, or late-night pork sandwich. All ESPN employees will thank me later!
Marly Rivera is a bilingual writer and reporter for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com and ESPN Deportes, a co-host of Nacion ESPN, and host of the Max y Marly podcast with Max Bretos. She was born in Puerto Rico and later moved to New York as a teenager.
What challenges have you faced as a Hispanic female journalist?
The biggest challenge for me is that I have had to fight a stereotype that has existed for many years about female journalists, particularly being Hispanic. Also, Hispanic culture has been slower to embrace non-traditional roles for women and being a sportswriter is still considered a “man’s job.”
– Marly Rivera
In the beginning of my career, especially covering baseball, where a large percentage of the athletes are Hispanic, it also took me a long time to garner the respect I deserved from those athletes. I am very proud to say today that I am as respected as any male journalist of any race or nationality, but it was quite a trial by fire.
How does your career allow you to embrace your Hispanic heritage?
My Hispanic heritage has fully informed the development of my career. Being bilingual, with Spanish being my first language, has allowed me to have a degree of comfort in communicating with many players who prefer to speak in their native tongue.
It has also allowed me to relate to the frustration of being misunderstood or not being able to express thoughts adequately in English. Being from a Latin American country also has created an automatic bond for me with many athletes, especially because there’s a degree of camaraderie that is derived from someone who understands and can relate to the subtleties of being from a different background or culture. And in the end, this has earned me trust, which is the ultimate weapon as a journalist.