Scoring Big on the Small Screen: Robin Roberts Turned Her Talent for Sports into a Career

By Karp, Hal | Black Enterprise, April 1997 | Go to article overview

Scoring Big on the Small Screen: Robin Roberts Turned Her Talent for Sports into a Career


Karp, Hal, Black Enterprise


Robin Roberts turned her talent for sports into a career

Robin Roberts knows strategy. As a star athlete, she learned the importance of having a game plan. As a sportscaster, those same rules have led to her career victory.

As co-host of ESPN's Sports-Center and ABCs Wide World of Sports, the 36-year-old Roberts brings with her the voice of experience. At the age of 10, she knocked down pins as a Mississippi State Bowling Champion. Later, at Southeastern Louisiana University, she sunk baskets to become the school's third highest scorer and rebounder.

Bitten by the broadcasting bug while tagging along with her older sister, Sally-Ann, a television reporter/anchor, Roberts chose communications as a major in college. During her junior year, she marched into a country-western radio station to apply for a position as sports director. The position didn't exist, but when she agreed to deejay on the weekends, one was created.

During that time, Roberts' friends often threw towels at her as she jokingly signed off each show with "...and this is Robin Roberts for ESPN." The fact is, she was only semi-joking, for her mission statement was already committed to paper. It read: "ESPN by 1990." My coaches taught me that talk is for dreams, but when you write it down, it becomes a goal," says Roberts. The paper on which she wrote that goal is still on display in a family scrapbook.

After graduating in 1983, Roberts turned down a high-paying news job and, instead, headed for the smaller markets in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. "I wanted to take my cuts in the minors," she explains. At $5.50 per hour, Roberts was the weekend sports anchor for WDAM-TV. Breaking down barriers came easily to the Air Force brat, whose father was a Tuskegee Airman. …

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