Mike Greenberg discusses sports media, social justice


Colin Boyle / Daily Senior Staffer

Mike Greenberg discusses social justice and sports at an event Saturday. Greenberg emphasized using his platform in a variety of ways beyond simple sports commentating.

Daniel DeMonte, Reporter

Host of ESPN’s “Get Up” and former host of “Mike & Mike” Mike Greenberg (Medill ’89) at a Saturday talk on campus emphasized using his platform as a sports commentator to do more than discuss last night’s game.

Greenberg returned to his alma mater to discuss social justice, women in sports and journalism with sportswriter and Medill Prof. Melissa Isaacson.

To a crowd of around 100 students in the McCormick Foundation Center Forum, Greenberg opened the discussion with a simple statement.

“Don’t forget to have fun,” Greenberg said “Your future is important, but so is enjoying your time.”

Greenberg said in his undergraduate years, he was more concerned with finding a date and eating Buffalo Joe’s than meticulously planning for his future like current undergraduates do now. Focusing on enjoying his time at Northwestern was more important to him.

Sports have become more than just a game — they’ve become a platform, Greenberg said. Athletes have some of the biggest followings on the planet, and while that comes with responsibility, he said not all athletes need to be social justice warriors.

“It’s not a reasonable demand to ask of someone if it is not inside of them,” Greenberg said. “I have great respect for someone like LeBron James who I think has extraordinary courage in the way he handles social justice.”

Greenberg also touched on the importance of female representation in sports journalism. When Isaacson asked him about women’s place in sports media, Greenberg responded it “shouldn’t even be a question,” considering that women make up half of the U.S. population. He said strides have been made in recent years with the successes of female sports commentators like Beth Mowins, who covers Monday Night Football, a coveted position in sports media.

“The notion that half of the world would not have a reasonable place in something as comparatively insignificant as the conversation that surrounds sports, I hope is something that doesn’t need to be said soon enough,” Greenberg said.

Medill sophomore Abriel Siregar said his main takeaway was Greenberg’s emphasis on enthusiasm and humility.

“I was surprised on how humble and well spoken he was,” Siregar said. “(He) attributed much of his success to luck which I wasn’t expecting either.”

Jess Viti, who also attended at the talk, said she appreciated the discussion about women in sports and social justice because she believes female sports journalists can make a difference in the world.

The Medill sophomore added that she wonders if she will be able to make a breakthrough in the field as a woman.

“It was encouraging to see that (Greenberg’s) perception of the industry is that it is changing in the right direction and is conscious of the uphill battle that women face,” Viti said. “I might not be wasting my time.”

Greenberg concluded the discussion with two final remarks for aspiring journalists in the room.

“The single most important quality, the most under-appreciated quality of a good interview is listening,” Greenberg said. “The other is that nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

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